Can Romanticising Your Life Help You Get Through The Down Days? - The Gloss Magazine
“Sally, I think I’ll buy the flowers myself.” Meryl Streep, The Hours

Can Romanticising Your Life Help You Get Through The Down Days?

In her new book ‘Romanticise Your Life’ Beth McColl writes about how romanticising her life helped her with depression and anxiety, and advises how, with the time and tools that you have available, you can come to appreciate the small things in life …

‘Romanticising your life’ may be a familiar trend. During the pandemic we saw seemingly infinite videos of flower-buying, breakfast-preparing and journaling TikTokers inviting you to slow down, find beauty in routine and mundanity, and imagine you already live your dream life. Feeds may have swallowed the trend, but writer Beth McColl insists romanticising became a life-changing practice for her. “I started romanticising my life because I was quite depressed,” she says, on the phone from her sitting room in south-east London.

Romanticising her life came to her when she needed it. “When I was in the grips of depression, all I could do for the first of however many months, was open my eyes in the morning and drag myself through the day,” she says. When she could leave the house, she would walk. “I would breathe, and I would put one foot in front of the other.”

She would reach a park, she says, where her sole task would be observing. Couples kissing, babies eating ice cream, the sun on her face. “That was all I had because I had nothing else,” says McColl, “They were beautiful moments and they were real.”

In her new book, Romanticise Your Life: How to Find Joy and Romance in the Everyday, released last month, McColl presents a selection of stories and practical advice around the themes of valuing friendship, solo travelling, being patient while dating, and being present in the everyday. She sees the book as a companion piece to her first book, How To Come Alive Again: A Guide to Killing Your Monsters, a handbook on handling mental illness.

McColl is a freelance writer known for her frank but kind advice on break-ups, mental illness and personal growth. Between 2013 and 2016, her brutally funny takes on mental health went viral on Twitter, where she now has 130,000 followers. From that, she started writing articles – an unexpected outcome. “I had no plans to be a writer for money,” she says.

Romanticise Your Life offers practical advice for anyone who might need it. “Anyone who thinks, I’m okay, but I don’t have that much pleasure, I don’t take that much time for myself. I don’t see the point, I’m perhaps waiting for life to become really beautiful,” says McColl.


Life is full of “free” pleasures, she says. You can make a bingo sheet of things you might like to see that year – someone unicycling, strangers dressed the same. Fresh bedclothes, children’s handmade gifts, being liked by a grumpy cat – small things that, if we just wait around to notice them, can bring us joy.

Poetry cemented the profundity of this practice for McColl. Poets daring to propose that life’s quiet mundanity outlasts its moments of glamour and excitement. “It was extraordinary and reassuring,” she says. Mindfulness, gratitude, appreciating the little things in life are other names for the practice, McColl says, but “the effort is to have more peace, more pleasure, more appreciation for the small stuff.”

McColl’s writing is strongest in her storytelling. Her friends cleaning mud off her face as a teenager reminding her to celebrate her friendships with romance. A magical one-night encounter with a dishonest man, a disappointing stay in Boston, an anxious solo journey to the Greek coast, all taught her to be kind, patient and strong for herself, rather than spiral in shame.

Romanticising your life isn’t glossing over serious problems, McColl says. Grief, chronic illness, and mental illness often blind us from seeing joy, because we need professional help. “It was only when I had done counselling, it was only when I was on, finally, an antidepressant that worked, that I was able to leave the house,” she says.

Consumerism sometimes slips into your hand as an answer, she says. “I have tried to shop my way out of every mental health crisis, every personal identity panic, in all of my adult life, and it has never worked.” Romanticising isn’t necessarily useful in a work context, either, she says. “You don’t have sway there, when you’re selling your labour,” she says. “I didn’t want [the book] to be polemic about areas of your life that exist in an unjust space.” It was important for McColl to be realistic about what her book could do – not redefine the self-help genre, but instead offer guidance on romance to those lost in a tricky period of their life.

Personal writing can do that, she says, even when internet audiences can sometimes be unforgiving. “I’m quite good at oversharing, I’m quite good at just saying the uncomfortable thing,” although usually with a bit of space between her and the difficult time. “I’ve felt vulnerable, but I’ve never felt uncomfortable with it.”

Romanticise Your Life: How to Find Joy and Romance in the Everyday, Orion Spring, by Beth McColl, available at book stores now.


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