Does anyone else feel like its almost a competition as to who can be the busiest and most stressed out these days? We live in a culture that, to a large extent, glorifies being busy and being pushed to the edge of our abilities and time. Whilst Im not necessarily saying that being productive and busy is a bad thing indeed hustle is my main motivational word right now I also think that people need to take time to slow down and relax. The phrase is work, rest and play for a reason.
Working full time with a long commute, doing freelance work in my spare time and trying to successfully keep up my exercise, social and general life admin routines sticks me right in there as a stereotypical Millenial who is time poor and often stressed out. I used to feel incredibly guilty about taking time out because there is always, quite literally, something productive that I could be doing, whether thats for my career or my blog. However, in line with my resolution over the last while to try and live a calmer life, Ive really revised my attitude towards rest time and the importance of doing nothing.
Thankfully, this is an issue that seems to be becoming more prevalent in mainstream media as well, with the popularity of the likes of Arianna Huffingtons Thrive and Gabrielle Bernsteins Spirit Junkie. We finally seem as a nation to be recognising that we really do need to invest time in looking after ourselves physically and mentally if we want to be firing on all cylinders.
My one resolution?
Schedule in me-time like a boss.
You might have heard this quote applied to exercise; its just as easily applied to rest time. Every single day, no matter how busy I am, how much freelance work has piled up, whether Ive fitted in rehab time or not, I take an hour to rest and do something I find deeply relaxing. For me this is generally turning off all media and reading a book and doing some meditation or breathing exercises. For you this might be watching an episode of your favourite programme on Netflix, catching up on all of the latest releases in the shops or loosing yourself in a game on the Xbox.
Mostly importantly, I refuse to feel guilty about it. Would you feel guilty about going to a meeting youd scheduled with your boss or going to an important work function or event? Nope, I didnt think so.
In my opinion rest and rejuvenation time is absolutely essential to me being able to give 100% in all other aspects of my life. So every day when I get home usually between 8pm and 9pm- I have my decompression time after dinner and exercise. I curl up with my latest book and practice my favourite spiritual teachings and I enjoy it.
Try treating your relaxing time as if it were as important as a crucial work meeting in your diary. Try it for a week and see how making that time yourself makes a difference to your mental and physical well being. I promise you that it will only do you good.
What do you think of me-time? How important is it to you in your diary?
Practice Of The Week – Tree Pose
Yoga: Tree Pose (Vrikshasana)
If I ever become famous I can guarantee one of my most quoted phrases will be: do you know how hard it is to worry when youre trying to balance in tree pose? No joke I must have quoted it dozens of time when recommending yoga to friends as a stress relieving practice.
Tree Pose, known as Vrikshasana, is one of my favourite yoga poses of all time for feeling balanced. No matter how strong I feel in my practice, or what level I can manage, tree pose always makes me aware of my connection to the earth, of how solid my body is in supporting me, and how to still the mind in order to concentrate on my balance.
I would highly recommend it for anyone who needs to reconnect to their body and feel balanced and supported.
Labels: Fitness Friday, Lifestyle
My Current Favourite Mindfulness And Spiritual Reads
One of my main goals at the start of this year was to get back into reading in a big way. As a child I was a voracious reader, you literally just had to hand me a book and I’d have it devoured by the end of the day; my happy place was the library. The love of reading was one of the greatest gifts that my parents gave me and it is one that I dearly hope to pass on to my own children on day. Books have forever been a source of inspiration and solace to me and one of my little pleasures to this day remains to go into Waterstones and spend an hour just touching all of the beautiful new books with their new book smells.
Who needs running with the cool kids when you have a cup of tea, a comfy chair and a new book, right?
I’ve always been interested in Eastern philosophies on the mind, and have written a variety of posts on how such philosophies of mindfulness and meditation have helped me go from strength to strength in terms of mental health.
Over the last year I’ve seen mindfulness and meditation as valuable life tools explode in the Western consciousness, and it makes me extremely happy to know that other people are benefiting in the same way I have from the concepts. Instagram is becoming a veritable trove of book recommendations these days…
So I thought I would share my current top picks for books in this genre:
Ajahn Brahm – A Truckload of Dung
If you have a real interest in mindfulness, meditation or Buddhism read everything by this man and watch his videos on Youtube. Seriously, he is one of the best writers/speakers I have ever encountered; and he has a brilliant sense of humour and simple way of putting across complex concepts. A Truckload of Dung is split into sections, each containing short (as in two pages) stories which act much as a parable does. You can dip in and out of this book at will and you will always find something deeper in one of the stories. Absolutely brilliant.
Robin Sharma – The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari
Yes this book might be trite and overhyped, and I don’t personally agree with all of the spin off books that have come from it, but the original book is a an easily accessible story that winds together much of the common sense life advice we all already know in a fabulous story. If you like narrative as a form of learning concepts then this would be perfect for you. It’s great for light reading and has a number of profound little one liners that I really enjoyed when I cam across them. Above all, it is excellent at putting across the message that you are in control of your life and can change it at any time.
Gabrielle Bernstein – Spirit Junkie
Bernstein’s actual writing style grates on me a little with it’s ‘hip’ and ‘rad’ teenage overtones, but some of the messages in the book are actually quite useful and easily applicable to day to day life. Overall her work is a little too steeped in Christian undertones (being based on the Christian mystical text A Course in Miracles) for me personally, but it is popular for a reason: modern people are finding it a great access point into mindfulness and slowing down. It’s a short read so I would recommend it to a complete beginner to spiritual works.
Jack Kornfield – The Wise Heart
From one end of the spectrum to another, this book is one for those who really want to see how Eastern (specifically Buddhist) psychology can be applied and mixed with Western concepts of the mind. I love it because although it is a deep, detailed look at quite complex Buddhist concepts, Kornfield lays it out in such a simple way that concepts I was finding hard to grasp in other works seemed straightforward in this work. This is a fabulous handbook with literally hundreds of ways to improve your life through meditation and mindfulness. Better still, I’ve found it has made an impact on my day to day understanding of my thoughts and feelings – I’d highly recommend this if you struggle with any form of anxiety.
Brian Weiss – Miracles Happen: The transformational healing power of past life memories
This is my favourite spiritual book of all time. I’ve read it dozens of times and will read it dozens more. I have nothing but total respect for Brian Weiss, a revered psychologist who has proved over the last three decades how past life memories can have a profound impact on how we life our lives today. Even if you don’t believe in reincarnation or the notion of past lives, read this just for the vignettes of human behavior and how profoundly it can change when people really start to understand themselves and their minds. It’s brilliant.
I would love your suggestions for books! Have you been caught up in the new mindfulness and meditation trend?
Scandinavian Inspired Home Decor
You cant tell Im currently feeling very inspired by anything that comes under the Scandinavian heading of interior décor can you?
Yes, the whole Pinterest ideal of neutral colours, spacious rooms, white and grey accoutrements, renovated fireplaces and artful bookshelves has drawn me in hook, line and sinker. I move into my new flat this week, and as its just been redecorated in a neutral white and light purple colour tone its pretty much a blank slate.
Cue my interior décor imagination running wild. Ive no idea where it came from as Ive had absolutely zero interest in interior design before. Damn you Pinterest and Bloglovin.
Ive actually got a fair bit of room in the flat as well as an old fireplace and some built in bookshelves. This led me to Pinterest DIY which has become a full blown obsession with everything that looks Scandinavian in design. So, in the interest of blogging and sharing ideas, I thought I would try and share my decorating journey on the site.
My current wishlist includes:
A white clothes rail to act as a feature in the large bedroom. This would also be practically useful for me to hang my work outfits on every week.
Fairylights to pop round the fireplace as well as some candles and pictures to decorate it. Cliché but I love it.
A huge collection of books for my living room bookshelf. I know a lot of people use their bookshelves for decoration only, but I genuinely love to read so Id like to fill it with books from top to bottom. This may take a while
A throw basket full of fleecy comforters. I love cosying up in a warm blanket after a long day and in my head I have a vision of friends coming round and me being able to wrap everyone in blankets in a style reminiscent of a 90s slumber party.
A cuddle chair so that I can take the aforementioned flows and get super comfy with a cup of tea to read in after work. Somehow curling up on a couch just doesnt have the same appeal as a snuggly circular chair.
Art hung everywhere to give the white walls some dimension and some personality. In my head Im envisioning all of our artwork framed in white or black frames. We both have quite eclectic collections so Im looking forward to the challenge of theming each room. Im commissioning a print from one of my friends and am also going to pick up a hustle print for near my dressing table, but I think Ill need to wait to see the rest of the space for deciding on where to put all of our other art!
Do you think I ought to stop before I spent all of my money in one go? Probably, but Pinterest is just so addictive!
Do you have any ideas you could share based on my theme? How did you all find decorating your first flat?
One Heck Of A Nothing // Soap & Glory One Heck Of A Blot Review
Soap & Glory One Heck
Does anyone else feel like power is more of a burden than a blessing? Apart from my Ambient Lighting Powder (which I use for glow rather than mattifiying) I tend to dislike powders as whole, but even with my dry skin I still need to set my makeup to stop me getting shiny by halfway through the day.
What I need is somewhat of an oxymoron a powder that mattifies my skin but still leaves me with a glow
I picked up the Soap & Glory One Heck Of A Blot on a whim a couple of months ago having heard good reviews on Twitter. Come to think of it twitter is responsible for a lot of things that seem to lurk in the back of my brain until Im standing in the aisles of Boots
Anyway, One Heck Of A Blot is marketed as a light, translucent mattifying powder that helps to control shine and leave skin looking flawless all day. Its a very powdery (pardon the pun) yellow toned powder, so I find it hard to see where the translucent part of that description applies as it certainly pulls yellow on my cool toned skin. I know a lot of people like this but I find it to be quite average: yes it sets your skin, yes it controls skin for a reasonable (6+ hours) amount of time, but I find it just to be a bit meh. Its very easy to overapply and make your skin look dull, even when using a large fluffy blush, and I really abhor the dusty nature of the product which means I tend to wind up with my dark trousers covered in powder. I actually prefer the cheap and cheerful Rimmel Stay Matte powder.
So yes, it does what it says on the tin to a certain extent, but it just leaves me feeling underwhelmed for the price point. Save your money and pick up the Rimmel one if youre looking for a cheap powder.
What your favourite powder? Does a glowy but mattifying powder exist? Or is that just in my dreams?
Labels: Beauty, Review
Fashion // The Anti Winter Outfit
This is what happens when you decide that you dont want it to be winter anymore and would quite like it to be warm now. Please, thank you. I picked up this skirt in the ASOS sale for something ridiculous like 6 and decided to pull it out and style it up for my mums birthday last weekend. I thought it turned out pretty well! Maybe Im getting into the midi skirt trend after all, or maybe I just bloody love scuba material so will wear it in whatever form that comes to me
This might seem like pink overload but it sure cheered me up after a hectic week a work and trying to get used to my ridiculous new schedule. Plus, I was only outside for a maximum of 60 seconds in the entire time that I was wearing this. So I can be anti-winter if I want, right?
Are you rebelling against the cold with your clothes right now?
Lifestyle // Breaking And Making Habits Over Lent
I quite enjoy the whole notion of Lent. Not necessarily in a lets force myself to give up everything that I really enjoy kind of way, but because I think that its a good reminder to look at my life and think of a few little changes that might benefit it.
I think that people always groan at the thought of Lent because they automatically think they have to give something up. But, have you ever thought about taking up something or trying to add something to your life instead?
I usually try and do both to be honest, with varying degrees of success! This year I decided to:
Break a habit: my tendency to be harsh and critical on myself when I dont manage things the way I want to. Im not talking about constructive criticism (which is always useful) but the beating up that serves no purpose. For example, Im struggling with a sprained ankle at the moment, and instead of being angry at my body for not healing faster, Im trying to be grateful that its healing at all and that it carries me safely though each day. So basically Im going to accept that I do my best and let things go.
Make a habit: I love meditation and my spiritual practice, but often Ill find days going past where I havent sat down to practice. So I want to make an effort to fill in my gratitude journal every day for the whole of Lent and to find 10 minutes for either sitting or walking meditation, or even just practicing being mindful of my breathing.
See its not all giving up chocolate and promising to be at the gym 7 days a week! Ive also found that if you make small changes that become a over Lent they tend to stick with you long afterwards.
What are you giving up/taking up for Lent?
Lifestyle // The Best Scones In The World
If youre ever up in the Fife area of Scotland then you definitely need to hit up the Balgrove Larder just outside St Andrews. Its by far one of the best farm shops and cafes that Ive ever been to in Scotland, as well as being the home of my favourite butcher and baker.
Its fairly bustling and full of local Scottish brands and produce to fulfil all of your food and drink desires. In summer they serve steak in an outdoor barn and their café is open all year round serving breakfast, lunch and a variety of cakes. The scones are literally to die for: the size of your head with accompaniments of jam and clotted cream. You might be waddling out afterwards but youll be waddling out happily.
The butchers is, as the Scots say, cracking. Full of amazing tasting meats and unusual cuts that you wont find in the supermarket. If you ever want to stock up on fabulous quality ingredients, this is the place.
I love it, and if I didnt love my waistline more I might be up there every weekend
Where do you like to buy local produce? Who does the best scones in your opinion?
Beauty // Morning Skincare Routine
Following on from my rather long introductory post to my nightime skincare regime I thought that I would also show my morning routine. Dont worry, this one is a lot quicker because I get up at 6am to go to work and dont really have time to be faffing about in the morning!
My aim in the morning is to add a boost of moisture into my skin and prep it for makeup application. This is all in the hopes that my makeup wont start to look like a tired mess until at least on the way home!
Cleanser: I usually favour a light cream cleanser in the morning because I dont want to put too much oil on my skin. That would rather hinder my attempts to get through the day with a scrap of makeup left! Currently I rotate between the Elemis Pro Collagen Cleansing Cream and my trusty Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish though they definitely dont get as much of work in as my night time balms!
Toner: If Im feeling awake Ill occasionally swipe some Elemis Apricot Toner over my skin to soothe it from my morning ministrations. It’s a light toner that’s a good first step hydrator for sensitive skin.
Treatment: Im currently working my way through a few tubes of the Elemis Dark Spot Corrector in a bid to double up my dark spot treatments between morning and night. So far, so good, though I dont know how much of a difference its making in comparison to my acids. Im working on an Every Little Helps basis at the moment.
Eyes: A thin layer of Decleor Prolagene Gel. This stuff is really fabulous as an all over facial treatment.
Moisturiser: The Decleor Hydra Floral Moisuriser in Light is a joy to use. Its light, easily absorbed, hydrating and smells wonderful. If my skin is feeling tight I use the rich version, which is as it sounds, a little bit thicker, but just as easily absorbed by the skin.
SPF: Alpha H Protection Plus Daily in Factor 50. With all the acids I use, I make a habit of protecting my skin! Sunlight being the most ageing thing of all…
I can pretty much do this entire routine in 2 minutes and be off and getting dressed whilst it sinks in. Then the fun part comes with the makeup application
Id highly recommend all of the Decleor products in this routine. Theyve very quickly become staples in my skincare wardrobe and for dry skin they are just fabulous in terms of hydration
Beauty // Night Time Skincare Routine
I completely overhauled my skincare regime at the start of the year after suffering from a bad bout of stress related dermatitis. After years of acne and harsh acne treatments, my skin has been left fairly dry and sensitive, and tends to take badly to popular ingredients such as Hyaluronic acid unfortunately for me. So at the start of this year I decided to go back to some very old favourites that I havent used for years in a bid to make my skin a little bit happier, both in terms of dryness and breakouts.
At the moment Im combining a lot of traditional ingredients, such as essential oils, with a serious exfoliating acid regime to try and combat both of my areas of worry. So far, Ive seen a positive difference in my skin, which for me is always a blessing no matter how long it lasts! If youve had acne for years upon years then you might now what I mean
Im about 8 weeks into this regime and very pleased with the results, so I thought I would share my night-time regime with you today and my morning regime later in the week. If any of you have similar skin to me, or are just looking to try out something new, you might find some inspiration here.
Like everyone else in the world, I have a busy life: work, freelance work, blogging, moving cities etc etc. However, I absolutely love making time to spend 5/10 minutes doing my skin at night. I think me-time is an absolute essential component in the life of every single person on this planet to avoid self-combustion, even if it is just taking your time to treat your skin at night!
Current Nightime Routine:
Cleanser: I actually have a lot of cleansers so I didnt photograph them all! I pretty much always start off with a balm cleanser such as the Clinique Take The Day Off Balm or the Elemis Cleansing Balm. Sometimes I use them to take off my makeup, sometimes I use them as a first cleanse, but I always spend a good few minutes massaging them into my skin. It kind of helps me massage away the stress of the day!
Toner: I like to use an acid toner at night to help combat breakouts and dark spots. My current toner of choice is the Alpha H Instant Facial, which contains my favourite Glycolic Acid. This is gentle enough to be used every night and I feel that it helps prep my skin for all of the oils I tend to put over it.
Treatments: I start off with a couple of drops of Decleors Aromessence Iris oil, which is one of their bestselling oils and which I find to be an excellent first hit of hydration for my tired, hardworking skin. I then layer over this the cult classic from Decleor, Prolagene Gel, which is a multitasking energizing gel that is meant to help with everything from dark spots to skin tone to dehydration.
Night Cream: More oil can you tell I love the stuff? I switch between my Decleor night balms: Iris for mature, Marjolaine for extreme dehydration and Neroli for dry/dehydrated. I bloomin love these products. You take a pea size amount and it melts into the most gorgeous oil trust me when I say massaging it in is a treat not to be missed if you like a relaxing night time routine.
Eyes: I always take my Decleor Prolagene Gel up and over my eye area when doing my face. I then layer on some of the Decleor Prolagene Lift Serum. My eyes really suffered during my dermatitis outbreak and are now a bit creapy and puffy. Only time will tell what the long term damage is, but for now Im just trying to provide them with as much help as possible.
Extra: Twice a week I use my old favourite, Alpha H Liquid Gold to take care of any bumps, lumps and to help fade dark spots that little bit faster. This makes a visible difference to my skintone in the morning and I love the fact it doesnt dry my skin out or irritate my sensitive areas.
I know all that oil might make me sound like Im turning my skin into an oily mess. My facial therapists never believe me about how dehydrated my skin is until they start applying products and watching them sink in in seconds. I can happily layer all of these products and still have touch dry skin in about a minute.
After this routine my skin feels soothed and I always wake up in the morning with plumper, healthier looking skin which is much more able to hold a lot of makeup without look dry and patchy.
What are your favourite night time products?