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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Why I’m Struggling to be a Fitness Blogger Right Now

Fitness is a big part of my life, and I’ve always tried to include that side of my life in this blog, but the keen-eyed regular readers would know that its been quite some time since I posted anything properly fitness related. I mean, I’ve done a few reviews, and a handful of retrospective posts over the last couple of months, but that’s been about it, and while I miss writing about a subject that plays such a big part in my life, I’m struggling for a few pretty good reasons.

I personally feel like the fitness industry itself is so massively flawed. We’re forever having ideas pushed upon us like fad diets, ‘skinny’ products, how we need to look like this celebrity or why those extra pound we’re carrying are the worst thing in the world, and I don’t believe in any of this.

I’m a firm believer that fitness and healthy living is for everyone, no matter how old you are or how much you weigh. I’m a firm believer that you shouldn’t be creating negative associations with certain foods because carbs are super important and some fats are healthy and the world is trying to convince you that the only thing you should eat is kale but you can absolutely have that pizza and enjoy it and not feel like you need to spend the entire next day in the gym hating yourself for it. I hate the terms ‘cheat’ and ‘treat’ and anything that suggests that enjoying life is unhealthy. I believe in body positivity and I cannot stand for ‘fat shaming’ or ‘skinny shaming’.

I don’t believe that the sole purpose of fitness is about losing weight or changing the way your body looks. I think that just wanting to get a bit more active, or become a little bit stronger is absolutely enough if that’s what you want to do. You can run that 10K and have the takeaway without having to justify it as something that you ‘earned’.

Its because I believe in all this that I’m finding the words so difficult to get out, because I would hate for anything I write to sound like anything I don’t stand for. I would never want anyone to think that I believed in or encouraged any of the damaging things that the fitness industry preaches, and I’d rather not say anything than say the wrong thing.

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Let’s Talk About High Street Sizes

So yesterday I was super excited when I got notification to say my H&M parcel had been delivered. Well no, that’s not exactly true because the email came from Hermes and I knew that there was a strong possibility that my parcel would be closer to the moon than my letter box, but that’s not what this is about.

I had ordered three items from H&M: a ladies t-shirt, size ‘S’, a pair of mom jeans, size 12 – because I’m a 10-12 and I figured I’d size up because jeans can be notoriously tricky to get right – and a hoodie from the kids section, aged ’14+’ – because I loved it, I’m quite petite so there was a possibility it would fit me, and I figured worst case scenario I’d just return it. Quite a mixed bag, right? Well, I figured I had a pretty good chance with everything fitting.

The first thing I thought I should try on was the kids hoodie, and I was super pumped to find that it fit me perfectly, yay! From the photo on the website, it was supposed to be a loose-fit style for kids, and it was a little more fitted on me, but it definitely didn’t look like I’d squeezed myself into a kids shirt. Win. I had no worries about the t-shirt fitting, but if anything it was a little looser than I expected, and then there were the jeans..

Remember how I said that I sized up? From the moment I stepped into them, I just knew that they weren’t going to fit. Despite being ‘mom jeans’, they just barely made it over my thighs, and there was absolutely no chance of them doing up. So tell me, why can I fit into a kids size item, and then not an adult size from the same store?

But this isn’t just about me complaining about my H&M order, this is about what high street stores are doing to girls and women every day. The industry is typically infamous for producing unrealistic body expectations with the use of tiny models, photoshop and various other things that make the average woman feel like a slug, but even if you take away all of these things, you’re still left with something that can be potentially so harmful, and that is the massive discrepancy between the supposed same sizes, not just between different brands, but even within the same store.

Let me put it this way: I bought those jeans a size bigger than what I am, and the size bigger than what I am did not fit me. Some of the thoughts that instantly go through my head are ‘oh my gosh, is it me?’, ‘have I gained weight without noticing?’, ‘could I actually be 2 or even 3 sizes bigger than I think I am?’. After this flood of negative thoughts about my own body, I talk myself down and remember that H&M is particularly infamous for big sizing issues, but before I could get to that explanation, I spent a few minutes feeling like absolute crap.

One time, I bought two pairs of skinny jeans from New Look – both size 10. One pair was a good fit, although actually a little looser in some places. I still have those jeans to this day. The other pair wouldn’t even go up my calf. My arm barely fit into them. Same number on the label, same shop, two completely different actual sizes.

I mean, I get that it might be completely possible to have a totally unified system, for whatever stupid reason the stores always give when challenged on this, but its not the fact that I can vary from a size 8-14 depending on where I’m shopping – I can live with that – its what this does to my confidence. Even Asos now has a ‘size recommendation’ feature, which is designed to give you a better idea of what you should order based on your personal details and previous purchases, and when I first saw it, I thought ‘hey, what a great idea!’ Well, that was until one time I saw something that I liked, selected my size, and the little message popped up saying, and I paraphrase, ‘um, you’re probably not gonna fit into that, why don’t you get the next size up?’ – yes I exaggerated what was actually said, but it actually made me feel so bad about myself that I just stopped shopping and closed the window.

In case I haven’t made my point clear enough – this is damaging. Brands can use all the curvy, un-edited models in the world, but if the size of their products doesn’t reflect some sort of consistency, girls and women everywhere are still going to be subject to the effects that the fashion industry has on body image.

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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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On Why Finally Putting Myself First

One of my main New Year’s resolutions for this year was to put myself first more often, and while I did put that into practice a little bit in January, now I’m really ready to commit to this, and myself.

I’ve always been the person that picked up the extra shifts that needed covering because someone else was sick, or that stayed late dealing with a customer while others ran for the door. You see, I have this awful affliction where I find it almost impossible to say the word ‘no’, and the thought of letting someone down just seemed impossible to me. Now there’s nothing wrong with being a good, reliable person, but the problem for me is that after years and years of doing it, its starting to take its toll.

Despite having started my new job, which I absolutely love, over 2 months ago now, I’ve still been doing overtime in my old position to try and earn a few extra pennies to put towards various things this year. It always seems like a good idea at the time, but in reality I end up getting super stressed out and over the last few months this stress has actually led to me being fairly unwell – in fact, I’ve been off work twice already this year due to illness which is just so unlike me. So on Saturday, I finally finished the last of the overtime I’ve pledged, and while I’ll no doubt miss the extra cash landing in my bank account each month, I think this is going to be so much better for me. I went from working 12 hour days in my old job, to going back to normal 9-5 hours in my new job but still doing overtime in between, and now I’m ready to just work normal hours, in a job that I actually like getting up for.

Ultimately, I know that I need to work on my health and my happiness. The migraines that I suffer with have been becoming more frequent over the last month or so, I keep getting coldsores, and I’ve also been battling somewhat silently with some body image issues that have been really getting to me as well. Now I have more time on my hands, I can not only get myself feeling better physically but also mentally and I think this is going to be so good for me.

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Why I Can Never Enjoy ‘Down Time’

I love keeping busy. This is handy, because I pretty much always am.

They say Rome wasn’t built in a day..

I have a full time job, but I only actually work 3 days most weeks, opting for 12 hours shifts over a regular 9-5, and this gives me quite a few days off in the week, which is great, right?

To the untrained eye, yes, but as well as my job, I also publish 5-6 new blog posts a week here, as well as running two small businesses on my own, both of which involve designing and creating the products that I sell, so my days off are dedicated to those commitments first and foremost.

Any blogger reading this knows exactly how much time and effort goes into blogging. A single post can take hours to make perfect, from the writing to photography and editing, and even when the post is live, then comes the promotion. In fact, I reckon its not inaccurate to say that probably 50% of a bloggers work is done on social media, rather than in the actual writing. There’s the tweet scheduling, Instagram posts, flatlays, PR emails, networking in the community and so much more.

Then comes the small business work. I have stock and supplies to order and products to design and create, then there’s packaging and post offices runs to go on, and again all the promotion work that goes alongside it all.

Great things take time..

Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do but it can be exhausting. I often feel like my work is never done, or there’s more I should be doing, so if I ever take time out for myself, I end up feeling guilty, or feel like I’m forgetting something important. For this very reason I feel like a lie-in is a waste of time, I can’t just sit and do nothing and if for whatever reason I can’t get any work done – hello creative blocks.. – I end up feeling guilty and stressed.

I know that this probably isn’t healthy, and I’m trying to work on it, but I just really want to be successful in the things that I do, and for me success comes from hard work. I don’t expect things to just be handed to me, and I’m more than happy to work for what I want and I just hate wasting time..

Does anyone else suffer from this problem, or have done in the past?

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