Things I’m Doing to Love Instagram Right Now

You know, it’s really starting to feel super cliche when I complain about Instagram; it’s just not what it used to be.

On the flip side though, I do have to think that back when our feeds were chronological and the dreaded algorithm didn’t really exist, I didn’t have the following that I do now, so truthfully I can never really compare engagement, and maybe even I wouldn’t have my 5000+ followers now if not for the changes. Who knows, right?

Despite all this, I honestly do still love Instagram. It’s my favourite social media platform because I feel it’s where I can be the most creative, and it’s gone from a place where I post occasional life and holiday photos and promote my blog, to all of this plus being the primary place where I promote my business and a place where I’ve made a lot of really good friends.

Over the last few weeks I’ve made a couple of changes in how I approach Instagram, and honestly they’ve all really boosted my positivity around the platform, and have also possibly contributed to an increase in engagement for me as well!

Getting chatty

I see so many rumours and theories flying around about what helps boost posts and I really don’t know where they come from or if they’re true, but supposedly comments really help. Whether this is urban legend or not, I’m actively making sure that if I scroll past a photo and have a thought about it eg ‘ooh I’d love to go to this place’ or ‘wow I need those shorts’, I put that thought into writing. If nothing else, I know how much I love getting comments so if all I’ve really done is given someone a little internal ‘yay’ then it’s a success in my eyes.

Now I don’t know if this is coincidental, or possibly that other people are having the same thoughts as me, but I have noticed since doing this that I am getting more comments and generally more likes, especially within the first few hours of posting, so I might be on to a winner. If nothing else though, I feel pretty good about it.

New editing software

I went from ‘what is this Lightroom thing that everyone’s banging on about?’ to ‘wow this is fantastic’ in approximately 2.5 seconds. Sure I still don’t fully understand it but I’m having fun winging my way through it! And yes, I guess it is just another additional step I’ve created for myself before being able to post to Instagram, but I really enjoy editing photos and I really love the results.

Planning ahead a little

I really take pride in my Instagram, so it does stress me out sometimes when I can’t find the perfect photo to post and sometimes that means I don’t post for days which makes me sad. I know this might sound ridiculous to a lot of people, but like I said earlier it’s one of my biggest creative outlets so while it may just be Instagram, it’s kinda like an artistic wanting to paint but not having any brushes. You get me?

Anyway, I’m tackling this head on with my handy sidekick, the app UNUM, which I’ve had for about a year now. I don’t religiously plan my posts, but I do like to know what I’m doing for the next day or two, with maybe a couple of blank spaces for ‘of the moment’ inspiration, just like I do with my blog posts, and it means I’ve always got something to fall back on if inspiration is lacking a little.

Staggering photos

I came back from my recent Disney trip with, no joke, THOUSANDS of photos. I posted maybe 2-3 photos a day while I was out there, but especially being on the cruise for a few days with no WiFi, I still have so many photos that haven’t seen the light of Instagram yet. Sure, I could post them all back to back, but I sometimes worry people will get sick of them and I also like to keep some content back to fill the gaps between trips (not that I’ve really got many gaps this year if all goes to plan!), so I spread them out between current photos for variety.

Not getting too hung up on numbers

No one likes not being liked, I get that, but Instagram is a weird and wonderful place full of bitchy politics and bots, and I’m just learning to accept that. Fact is, if you’ve seen your follower count drop overnight, it’s more likely to be courtesy of bots dropping out or accounts being deleted or deactivated that it is that many people making the conscious decision to take you off their feed. Hakuna matata.

As for people playing the follow/unfollow game, I just think that they must be having a really miserable time on Instagram if they feel the need to do that all the time, so they can do them and I’ll just be over here having a fabulous time because it’s so much easier than stressing over it.

At the end of the day, I know its just an app, but its also an app that is very important to me for a lot of reasons, so its so much easier to enjoy what I’m doing on there, don’t you think?

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Its Okay That My Blog Has Taken A Back Seat

I’ve talked a lot lately (or at least it feels like it) about how I’ve been struggling a little with blogging; not finding the time for it, perpetual writers block and general lack of focus and motivation. I’ve blamed so many factors, then promised myself I won’t let it happen again, and then it does, and the cycle continues.

I’ve been thinking a lot of about it, and I think I’ve finally come up with an explanation that I’m happy with.

For so long, my blog has been my life. Its been the constant source of pride and happiness in my life when my life hasn’t always been perfect. I worked for so long in dead end jobs that didn’t make me happy, so I loved having something that gave me a sense of purpose, and so I dedicated myself to it; if I wasn’t working, I was working on my blog, and that made me feel like I was doing something worthwhile.

But things have changed now. My life feels fulfilled in so many ways. I have a house, I have a job doing what I love, and there are so many things in my life that make me happy now, so the happiness and sense of fulfilment that my blog used to give me is already there. I don’t feel like I NEED to blog to be happy.

Of course, I still love my blog. I love writing and it makes me happy, so its not something that I think I’ll ever really give up, but I think I can finally let go of the need to publish 5-6 new posts every week like I used to. I can let go of the pressure to create content and go back to just loving creating the content when I do.

Now that I have realised this, I have found a sense of peace with my blog that I think I really needed. I was starting to think that because I couldn’t keep up with my old posting schedule that I should just give up altogether, but it doesn’t have to be all or nothing, its whatever I want it to be, and I want it to be the thing that makes me happy again.

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10 Things Before 10am

Something that I, and many others, I expect, am more than often guilty of is focusing on all the things that I haven’t done or achieved, rather than celebrating all the things that I have done.

And d’you know what? It’s draining.

Whether it’s thinking about work or tasks that I haven’t done, or things in my life that I’ve left to achieve, it leaves a constant nagging feeling of negativity hanging over me, and quite honestly I’ve had enough of it.

So the other week I had quite a productive morning, and naturally as the millennial that I am, I tweeted about all the things that I had managed to do before 10am. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but then this week I found myself mentally taking stock of things I had done that morning and I had somewhat of an epiphany – I achieve so many more things than I don’t, I’ve just conditioned myself to overlook them all.

So I figured it’s time for a reconditioning, and that’s where the title of this post comes from. Every day, no matter how productive, or seemingly unproductive, my morning has been, I take a few minutes to stop and think of ten things that I have done or achieved. Sure, sometimes this list might be padded out with things like getting dressed, brushing my hair or drinking a glass of water, but all of these things count as successes, we just don’t tend to see them that way.

Today’s 10 for me are:

  1. Going for a 5 mile run
  2. Hitting 10,000 steps
  3. Washing my face properly with nice skincare products
  4. Eating a healthy breakfast
  5. Finishing up 2 skirt orders
  6. Scheduling my tweets for the day
  7. Writing this blog post
  8. Planned my meals for the day
  9. Brushed my hair
  10. Moisturised

Now obviously I’m not saying that you have to name ten things, or have to do it at 10am, that’s just what works for me and my schedule, but it’s just so nice to focus on something positive rather than letting that cloud of negativity float about.

I’m working a lot on creating a more positive mind-frame for myself, so watch this space!

Sixty Seconds of Self Care

With mental health awareness increasing by the day, self care is becoming an ever increasingly more important part of day to day life. Quite simply, self care is any act in which you do something to look after yourself, either physically or mentally.

Too often though, we think of self care as a bit of a big deal, and I know that I for one am guilty of ignoring self care with the excuse that I don’t have enough time, when in fact we should always be finding the time to make sure that we are happy. Self care doesn’t have to mean spending 2 hours in a bath with £20 worth of Lush products, it can be as simple as a minute here and there, and sometimes the smallest things can make a big difference to your day.

Here are a few self care practices that I’ve been doing lately that take no time at all:

  • Taking a little more time brushing my hair after washing it, rather than just enough to get any knots out
  • Instead of gulping down my hot chocolate while I’m trying to get work done, I’ve been stopping to sit back and enjoy it
  • At the end of each day, taking just a small amount of time to write down, or just think about all the good things that have happened that day
  • Sitting to eat breakfast, rather than standing
  • Using an in-shower moisturiser to keep my skin happy with minimal effort
  • Drinking at least one glass of water every two hours
  • Deciding what to wear to work the night before so I don’t have to rush around in the morning and feel cuter
  • Taking a little bit of time each morning to comment on Instagram posts instead of just liking, and also replying to comments on my own posts
  • Using my Fitbit’s ‘relax’ feature for breathing exercises before bed
  • Applying BioOil to my stretch marks after showering
  • Reminding myself why I love what I do when I’m feeling stressed about it
  • Retweeting cute animal videos to brighten up my (and others) timelines

These might seem like insignificant little acts, but just by doing them and knowing that I’m making a little effort towards looking after myself, they have been making a big difference!

Do you take time to look after yourself?

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A Pledge to Myself, Right Now

The last few months for me have been a bit of a rollercoaster. Hell, the whole of 2018 has been a total blur. To say I’ve been overwhelmed would probably be an understatement, and the probably with that is the good old saying: something’s gotta give.

So I’ve been letting things slip. I’m not proud of it, but I know that its true, and the problem hasn’t so much been that I’ve been dropping a few little things from my schedule, its that I’ve been dropping some things that are actually pretty damn important, not necessarily for other people, but for myself.

My skincare routine has diminished to me just barely washing my face in the shower, and there are days where I don’t even fill in my eyebrows. My face has hardly seen any makeup in the last few months, with the exception of when I was on holiday, and when I went to a wedding a few weeks ago, and while I have no problem with not wearing makeup, I really enjoy doing my makeup, and not doing things that I enjoy has really been affecting me.

More recently, I’ve realised that I’m not even wearing the clothes that I love to wear. I’ve gone from wearing outfits that make me feel cute to wearing whatever I can throw together that morning and avoiding looking in mirrors. Suddenly I’m finding things like posting on Instagram feel like the biggest chore on some days, and my blog has been suffering massively because feeling under pressure really hinders my ability to write. I’ve also been neglecting my body; not eating well, avoiding exercise some days and feeling totally sluggish as a result. I’m not ok with this.

So here it is, a promise to myself:

I must remember to take time out for my own happiness. If something’s gotta give, then that’s ok, but don’t let the things I love disappear.

I will look after my body, from getting back on track with eating a balanced diet and remembering to stay active, even if that just means taking a walk at lunchtime. I will drink more water. I will take those extra few minutes each day to look after my skin.

I will not let myself get caught up in negativity, and spend more time reflecting on positive, happy moments in my life, and looking forward to the amazing upcoming events that the rest of this year has to come.

I will try to always be better than the person I was yesterday, because lots of small steps are just as effective as one big one.

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5 Things I Do To Stay Sane At Work

In case I haven’t harped on about it enough, its not been two solid months since I properly started my new job, and its safe to say that I am so much happier since then. But while I love being the person who doesn’t dread going to work every day, I’m still normal in the sense that there are places I’d rather be, and sometimes I do feel that little ‘is it 5pm/Friday yet?’ twinge every now and then.

I found it very strange transitioning from a retail environment to a call centre around 18 months ago, but having now transitioned away from a customer facing role into a standard office-y type job, again I’ve been thrown a little out of my comfort zone and having to adapt to a different working style, but I’ve come to learn that there are a few little tricks and tips that I do at work to keep me a little more sane, and many of these can translate to most work environments.

Don’t eat lunch at your desk

I used to spend at least half of my lunch break sitting at my desk, and even though I wasn’t working and my screen was locked, I still always found that there was a little niggle in the back of my head reminding me of whatever work needed doing, and so I’d spend my time thinking or stressing about getting back to work. Now, even if its just going down the corridor to our little vending machine area to sit with my lunch, I won’t spend my lunch time at my desk.

Stay active and step away from your screen

If you work in an office, you probably spend at least 90% of your working day sat down and staring at a screen – I don’t need to tell you that its not great for your posture or your eyes. As a Fitbit user, I have a little goal set on my Charge 2 to get in at least 250 steps every hour, so I always make sure that I’m moving around a bit, whether that’s going to the printer on the other side of the office instead of the closest one, going to fill up my mug with water, or taking a trip to a different floor to go to the toilet. I also like to get out of the office completely on my lunch break, even if its just to walk to the shops across the road or go and sit on the grass outside in the summer.

Spread some positivity

So many people find their work a little dull or maybe a little stressful, and its easy for negativity to spread in a working environment, especially when everyone’s feeling under pressure, so I try to be a little extra sunny on those days. I’m the newest person in my department, so I probably don’t understand some of the strains that other people are under with deadlines and targets etc, so I like to use that motivation to cheer others up. I wish everyone a cheery ‘good morning’ when I come in or see them for the first time that day, I make little jokes with people and have a chat at the photocopier; its the little things that can brighten someone else’s day and I feel so much better for it too.

Wear something cute

This probably sounds like the silliest thing but whenever I need a little push to feel more better about the day ahead, I always find myself reaching into my wardrobe for something special. Sometimes this means I’ll wear something quirkier like my Mickey Mouse blouse or galaxy print Black Milk shorties, and other times I’ll go for something a bit fancy like a nicer-than-everyday dress or the blazer that makes me feel all kinds of girl-boss-like, and it sets me up for the day, plus every time I catch my reflection in the mirror or a window, I get a little boost.

Work the right number of hours

Its so easy when there’s a lot of work to do to end up staying late, or cutting lunch short, but whenever I do find myself putting in more hours than I’m getting paid for, I always make sure I give myself the time back when I can, and this is a lot easier now I don’t clock in and out on shifts! On two occasions last week I ended up staying 15-20 mins late to finish up a few things, so on Friday I pushed myself to get things done a little quicker and left 20 mins early to have a good start to my weekend. I appreciate this isn’t something that everyone can do, but its the first time I’ve ever been able to do this in my working life and I’m taking advantage of it.

Do you do anything in particular to keep your head above at work?

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‘Celebrity’ Books That I Loved

When it comes to books, I generally don’t gravitate to those with a ‘celebrity’ author, and by that I mean a TV personality, film star, sportsperson etc. I’ve never really been one for autobiographies, and I’m a bit stubborn when it comes to famous people writing about stuff that they’re not so famous for. (Yes, I know they probably know the subject very well and all that, I just can’t help but think they’ve had some other person do most of the research and even if that’s not the case, I’ll still think it). Basically, I’m probably most celebrity authors worst nightmare.

That said, there are three books that fit this category that I completely worship, and I personally think that every girl – hell, anyone in general – should read, and here’s why.

Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick

I will fight anyone who doesn’t like Anna Kendrick. I think she just so genuine in her personality, I think she’s crazy talented and she’s ridiculously funny, but also loves a big helping of sarcasm. When she released her book, I knew I wanted to read it straight away, despite my previously mentioned dislike for autobiographies. Well I took it on a flight from Gatwick to Orlando, and I’d read it cover to cover before the plane landed. I loved learning more about her career as a child – she was on Broadway as a teenager and was the second youngest person EVER to be nominated for a Tony Award for her role in High Society – did you know that? I sure as hell didn’t before I read this. The whole book just reads as Anna, like she could just be sitting across from you telling these stories. I doesn’t sound like someone just trying to plug their successes and just overall it gave me so much more respect for her, not that I didn’t like her already. Lots of fun, lots of sarcasm but ultimately lots of reality.

Girl Boss by Sophia Amoruso

I hate to be ‘that person’ but I actually read this book before it became the enormous hit that it is now, but I do think it deserves every accolade. As well as being an autobiography, this book made me feel like I could take on the world. Sophia’s story is so impressive and its the true underdog story of Subway sandwich artist to CEO. Again, the writing just felt so genuine and not at all edited or scripted in any way, and also quite incredibly humble for someone who achieved so much. And while the book itself and the story that it told was a fabulous read, its the culture that it has inspired that makes it truly amazing. #Girlboss

Pretty Happy by Kate Hudson

Kate Hudson is another celebrity that I admire hugely, but I definitely think even more so since reading this book. This isn’t an autobiography but I also struggle to categorise it as its combination of health, lifestyle and positivity. What I love about this book is that it doesn’t focus in any way on one particular method to be healthier. It teaches the thing that I find most important when it comes to health and fitness and that is that every body is different and its all about learning how to understand your own body and what it wants and needs and using that mindfulness and understanding to learn what to do to become healthier. I think that this is something that anyone can read, not just people who are trying to become fitter or healthier. Kate really nailed it with this one.

I’d love to hear any recommendations you might have for similar books, so please drop me a comment if there’s any books you really love!

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