Each post will be different, and perhaps unconventional, reflecting my values and those of my work. Let’s call it a pick ‘n’ mix without the calories. (Flashback to the Woolworths days anyone?)
Top 10 Everyday Loves 🥰
To me, February is the month that highlights all kinds of love. Not just what the shops and restaurants want us to buy into but the many ways in which we all experience love, on whatever level. Since doing a workshop on a 'mundane love poem' back in August last year at a writing retreat, I've thought more about the ways we can love, treasure and appreciate objects. They might be constantly swapped for something of the same breed, (cars, phones, toothbrushes etc.) And of course, we can clean them and protect them from damage but we can't ever return all that they do for us. So, this month I want to share with you my top 10 everyday loves and why I appreciate them. If it seems a bit silly then all the better! I invite you to take a look at the items in your life that you simply couldn't (or wouldn't want to) be without.
This makes the darker mornings so much easier for getting up and going. Its gentle light gradually gets brighter. I actually wake up in a better mood because of this little beauty. It's absolutely vital for me between October and March.
The feeling of the rushing hot water wakes me up even more (and warms me up.) It's so cleansing (literally) and makes me feel good.
3. Toothpaste & all essential oil related products
All of my essential oils are important to me. I've tried to pick a favourite but it's too hard. I've chosen the toothpaste for the top 10 though, as it's another must-have item. The On Guard oil used in this product helps promote oral health. It also smells and tastes nice and makes what is a potentially boring ritual a little bit nicer.
Being short sighted isn't fun. I quite simply wouldn't be able to see things as well without these. My two pairs support me with driving, screen work and seeing more detail in the world around me. Effectively, they are little friends for my eyes.
5. Mobile phone & other tech
I'm certainly not addicted to my phone or laptop, but they support me with so many everyday activities. I can keep in touch with loved ones and communicate with the world at large. They also house my favourite apps like the Calendar, Headspace and Spotify. Of course, the TV for my daily dose of comedy too.
Not only are they a great colour (to brighten a mood) but they are there when I want to listen to new music or hear the voice of one of my favourite people on the phone. They are also great for Zoom sessions with clients.
This is fab at keeping me warm even when it's not plugged into the electricity. I wouldn't have been without it this winter. As it's so lightweight I can move it anywhere around the house and even take it other places!
8. Skechers trainers
I've never had comfier trainers than a pair of Skechers. So much room and memory foam... My feet are always supported and never sore when I wear these. It's quite hard not to buy several pairs in different colours though!
The one pictured is mainly for my evening list of things I'm grateful for. In general though, I love notebooks and paper. They help me to express myself without judgement. I admire their beauty on a regular basis.
So comfortable and cosy. There's nothing like getting in this at the end of a long day.
I'm not saying I think we should send cards to these objects, just that we notice how they enhance our lives simply by existing. What might you notice and fall in love with?Friday 3rd February, 2:42pm
8 Ways To Enjoy January
Let's face it, unless you've got a significant event such as a birthday or anniversary in January, it's probably not your favourite month. If you're anything like me, you'd ideally like to curl up in a cosy blanket and hibernate, remerging when it's warmer and lighter. I'm here to remind you that it's possible to enjoy January. Here are some ways you can try.
Be proud of you
You can be proud of your achievements in 2022. Even if this was just surviving the year.
Give yourself permission
Permission to relax and do things for yourself that you enjoy. If you don't know, it's absolutely fine to figure out what those things are. The same goes for New Year's resolutions or intentions. If you start something and don't finish, don't berate yourself for it.
Be kinder to others
We all need reassurance in an uncertain world. A smile goes such a long way and can bring even just a bit of comfort. We can never know what is truly going on for others. Although, we can choose to listen more, to what they're saying (and not saying.)
Be more honest
How often do you say 'no', mean it and stick to it? You don't always have to have excuses or give explanations. If you really feel the need, a simple 'for the sake of my wellbeing' works.
Use playful curiosity
Imagine you'd never known a January before. You'd have no preconceptions, no choice but to simply live through it. What could January be like if it's unknown?
Whenever, wherever you can, laugh. It really is the best medicine. It also tells our brain that we're OK and not in life-threatening danger.
Notice what makes your heart leap
With my 'Joy January' challenge, I'm inviting people to notice what they enjoy during their day, and if it can't be seen easily, actively seek it out. Go in search of joy.
Instead of taking up a new gym membership or a daily activity that you know isn't sustainable for your lifestyle, what can you do with the things you already have? Leftovers from Christmas adding to general clutter or items sitting in a dusty box in the cupboard? It might be a photo frame you can upcycle or making gift tags out of Christmas cards. You might even find something in an email that you've been meaning to unsubscribe from. Ideas are everywhere if you look hard enough.
It's just four and a half weeks, 31 days long. It doesn't have to be wished away and 'survived' We can find ways to thrive at the beginning of the year. Let me know how you get on. I look forward to seeing and hearing.
(There's still time to sign up to Joy January!)Tuesday 3rd January, 6:32pm
Advent Calendars of a very different kind
Last year I created a beautiful and fun digital advent calendar. Instead of chocolate there was a little activity for stress relief and/or self-care each day. While this was a joy to do and share with others, it was a lot of work. There is much going on at the moment, in the world and in my life and I always want to give my all to a project and not be half-hearted about it. I had to be honest with myself. Did I have the time to do it again for 2022? The answer was, sadly, no.
This year I've decided to practice what I preach and have made myself a self-care advent calendar, but in pieces. I believe it's the pieces of the whole that make it whole anyway. Each day is as important as the others. For the first time in my life, I don't have a shaped chocolate behind a cardboard door waiting for me. Is this because I've given up chocolate? Hell no! I simply wanted to give myself a gift everyday that meant more for my wellbeing. It isn't easy or natural for me to give myself gifts so I've made them small. I found the lovely little brown envelopes my Grandfather used to give us pocket money in (not the exact ones - they are long gone!) I then wrote twenty four things I could do to support my emotional health in the lead up to Christmas, on little white post it notes. I folded them, shuffled, closed my eyes and placed one inside each envelope. I can roughly remember what I'll be giving myself but I have no idea when I'll be giving it. It's actually very exciting and meets my need to be spontaneous and organised in equal measure.
Today's Box 1 was 'Walk'. I usually go for a walk for at least ten minutes a day. I did as I was told this afternoon and went for forty minutes while catching up on a podcast. It was made more atmospheric with all the fog!
If you want to try this at home, there's still time. Because we're not perfect and neither is life - you can start any day you choose and for any reason. In fact, wouldn't it be lovely to put one away for each week of next year?
This year's Unwind & Uplift Wellbeing Advent Calendar is much looser and in five weekly instalments. Watch this space for 5 Gold Wins.Thursday 1st December, 4:53pm
5 Tips for SAD times
In case you're not familiar with the term, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern. (Thank you NHS for the definition.) It's also known as "winter depression" because generally people suffer more than in the summer.
On Sunday the clocks go back in the UK. It's lovely to have an extra hour to do what you want to do. I usually allow for more sleep. However, it means it's dark for more of the day and can make us feel very shut in. Whether you suffer from SAD in the darker months or feel low this time of year for other reasons - I hope these tips will help you.
1. If you can, go for a walk just as the light changes
Early morning or late afternoon - both if you can manage it. If we can see the shift in light happening, we can be more curious and mindful about it. Perhaps we can even view it as an everyday miracle? Plus, you're getting some exercise which will help lift your mood.
2. Light therapy
Where a special lamp called a light box is used to simulate exposure to sunlight. There are so many, to cover all types of person and need. My favourite is the Lumie Lamp. These very special light boxes mimic the rise of sun, gradually increasing in brightness ready for your chosen wake up time. You can also set it to get dimmer at night. I absolutely swear by my Lumie lamp as I've never been a fan of waking up in the dark and putting a light on which just hurts your eyes.
3. Inject some humour into your day
4. Diffuse or inhale essential oils
These make such a difference. If you don't have access to the actual oils, cooking with them will also help.
These are some things that soothe me. You'll have your own, of course.
Hypnotherapy can really help with SAD too, so get in touch if you'd like to know more.Thursday 27th October, 5:53pm
Ah, a Spa
It's not cheap, that's true. It's also not an everyday experience. Let's face it. If it was, we'd get complacent. My wonderful spa day last week felt a little bit like Christmas if I'm honest. That was possibly because it was a Christmas and Birthday present rolled into one x3 between my Sister and I. We received impeccable service from the start and it was worth every penny. I really think mini spa days once every few months on the NHS (if they could afford it) would drastically improve general wellbeing. Here's my little response to the day's activities. As this isn't a review as such, I am not naming the spa. You can get all of this things at any good spa.
This was my first experience and definitely won't be my last. Lots of salty water, moody lighting, cushions and soft music. Oh and it's warm. An opportunity to feel completely weightless. I chose to use this as a mindfulness exercise too, when I was conscious.
Wonderful if you're a knotty or tense person (I'm both.) I had a lava shell back, neck and scalp massage this time. If you get one of these early in the day, there's the added benefit of feeling less stiff for the duration.
Just sitting by a pool on a plastic recliner or a heated lounger in a dark room has such a calming effect. This is something we could totally recreate at home with a bit of creativity.
So many to choose from. Inside/outside, quiet/less quiet, hydrotherapy, deep sea salt, funky lighting. If too much choice leaves you feeling overwhelmed I'd suggest trying them all out for a few minutes a time and then picking your favourite. Or you could just go to the first one you see and stay there. The best thing about a spa day is you get to decide where and how you spend it.
For me, this has most benefit just after a trip in the water. You can feel the water trickling off your body as you dry. This one was a little too hot though unfortunately and I could only sit for 5 minutes at a time. Perhaps a good thing in the long run or my internal organs would be fried!
Being so warm outside last week, the steam coming off the little whirlpools was atmospheric. It could have also been the October mist... There were some hot tubs - wonderful when you're in them but very cold when you get out.
Connection with yourself and/or companion
There are so many excuses for self-care here. The actual experiences were very sensory. You can also have a read or a nap, do a crossword puzzle etc. The food is nice and healthy. There's also lots of time for life, the universe and everything type conversations. Generally most people are in a good mood because it's their choice to be there.
Spas aren't for everyone but if they're for you, where can you find time and money to treat yourself to this divine experience?Thursday 20th October, 5:20pm