Finding Balance within the Busyness?

We’re a few weeks into 2020 now, so the ‘goals’ have been set and we’re putting them into practice? Thinking positive at the end of 2019, I set some self-care goals which you can read about here and as I’m tracking the days that I complete them, it’s so good so far. But once that first week of January is over and things start to feel a bit more normal after the break, the slow pace of life over Christmas is naturally going to get busier. So the goals to look after yourself may be set, but how can they be turned into habits to make sure there is some kind of balance in our everyday lives?

I’m already a few days into the second semester of final year and recognised that as most of my modules have set deadlines within days of each other (yay), the next few months definitely won’t be quiet (I mean I kinda knew this but still, I’ve had the full realisation now). But rather than just applying this to a student lifestyle, I’m more questioning about how we can find balance in every aspect of our lives.

Can I have another holiday yet?

I don’t have the answers for finding balance in your everyday life, mainly because it’s different for us all and to be honest, I’m treading water at the moment! I’ve written about time and productivity on this blog which contribute to feeling ‘balanced’ as such, and although I can offer tips for these aspects because it’s how I try to do them, to me balance is a whole different ballgame. But I do think it’s important to somehow work out what balance means for you. To be able to take a step back from everything and put aside the mental to-do list of ‘important’ things.

When I think about my own balance in life, I find that I spend time worrying about what I haven’t done and put pressure on myself so does a true balance of aspects within our lives exist? In first year of uni, we were told that the ‘sleep, study, social’ triangle existed but realistically we would be able to only do two of those aspects well. A simplistic model I guess, but in first year, I’d like to think that I did the social and sleep aspect pretty well. Second year was definitely more study and social. But ideally, I want to balance all three – study is taking priority, but I want fun and sleep combined with that!

So I guess in some way, it’s all about understanding that we are all human, we have emotions so it’s completely normal and okay to feel overwhelmed. Be compassionate with yourself, take a step back and surround yourself with the things you love.

In a way this blog post is an open letter to myself, but one to you too – give yourself some credit, I’m sure you’re doing better than you think!

One Year On – ‘The Inbetween Size’

So, a year ago, I wrote a post called ‘The In-between size‘ this was talking about how I’ve found it difficult to judge sizing, whether that was trying clothes on in shops or online shopping. Let’s be honest, how many times have we liked an item, it didn’t quite fit, but it was too much effort to go get the next size & try it on again?

The reason why I’ve wanted to write a post like this again is because I went shopping the other day and tried on the same skirt in different colours but in the same size. Now will you believe me if I said one fitted & the other didn’t?! Even though it was the same skirt, the sizing was completely off.

Since writing the last blog post, I feel as though my mindset has shifted. That’s in a good way. Yes I still have moments of thinking ‘why do no clothes fit me?!’ as I can’t get the sizing or the style right, but it’s a learning curve & so this is what I’ve learnt over the last year:

  1. Wear Colour – this was always something I shied away from, I love a neutral colour but found I was always leaning towards black for when I wanted to feel comfortable & it is true that black jeans go with everything! A colour consultation has really helped here (just to note: colour consultations are expensive & I was very lucky to be gifted one but I will say that they are definitely worth the money). To know the colours that suit me best, means that I already feel better when wearing them, for example; as I have blue eyes, blue is one of the easiest colours for me to wear & one that I feel comfortable in. But it has pushed me outside of my comfort zone, I’ve realised that I can wear colours like greens & pinks more often.
Dress & Sandals – New Look

2. Try different styles – last year, I’d just discovered culottes (late to the party as always), but I was always unsure as to whether they’d suit me. I’ve expanded my collection over the year to a denim pair & a navy culotte jumpsuit, but will most definitely be on the lookout for more now the weather is getting warmer. Mom jeans is another style I didn’t think would suit me, but after giving them a go & realising how comfy they are, I’m sold.

3. Size is just a number – unfortunately, even though my mindset has shifted, I’ve only recently started to recognise this. But it’s the same as wearing styles that suit best, as they need to fit right too. By wearing the size that fits the best, hopefully prioritises comfort (we all want to sit down without jeans cutting into our waistband right?), but as well would help confidence, and that’s something I’m working on!

How have your experiences with clothes sizing been?

All clothes pictured are from New Look – Links below:

Khaki Dress – https://www.newlook.com/uk/womens/clothing/dresses/green-spot-print-belted-tunic-dress/p/614790339?comp=Browse

Sandals – https://www.newlook.com/uk/womens/footwear/shoes/sandals/wide-fit-camel-straw-effect-footbed-sliders/p/613380917?comp=Search

Denim Culottes – https://www.newlook.com/uk/womens/clothing/jeans/blue-d-ring-buckle-denim-culottes/p/610470940?comp=Search

Jumpsuit no longer on website but there are plenty of similar jumpsuits: https://www.newlook.com/uk/womens/clothing/playsuits-jumpsuits/c/uk-womens-clothing-playsuits-jumpsuits?comp=NavigationBar%7Cmn%7Cwomens%7Cclothing%7Cdepartment%7Cplaysuitsjumpsuits%7Cgbl#/?q=:relevance:colourGroupCode:40&page=1&sort=relevance&content=false

Friendships

So, over the last week or so, I’ve done a fair amount of reflection, almost preparing myself for the next chapter. Through this, I’ve reminded myself of some pretty fabulous people that I have in my ‘circle’ & I’m incredibly lucky for that. But in our ever growing digital world, more & more, you see friends, couples etc, spending time together and they’re glued to their phones. I’ve been guilty to this probably more times than I’ll admit, but taking some time away from devices for quality time with friends, family or your other half, can often do the world of good.

Friendships are there for the good times & the bad times. Yes, you’ll disagree, bicker, have different views, but typically, friends accept you for who you are & choose to spend time with you, simply because they like your company.

In a way, I think we need to remind ourselves of that. Our growing attachment to social media doesn’t always help, the comparisons we let ourselves make, between our lives and those who we see on social media. You’re sat at home on a friday evening with a glass of wine, quietly minding your own business (& probably secretly quite enjoying being in on a friday night). But before you know it, you’ve seen everyone’s instagram stories, out with their friends & it can make you doubt everything.

Over the years, lifestyles get busier, catch up takes longer, and sometimes if something significant happens, knowing who to rely on is key. Although this may not always be so clear, friendships present themselves in different ways. For me, this year, most of my friendships have become long distance as we are all scattered around the UK and so keeping in touch with the majority of my friends has been through a device. In September, something pretty significant affected my lifestyle and knowing how to let people know felt a bit confusing. Do I just blurt it out over text? Even scheduling a FaceTime or phone call and having to say it out loud felt weird. With one of my friends, I decided to send a long rambly snapchat video (top vlogger I know) of me basically saying ‘I need to tell you something, give me a call asap’.

Friendships drift for so many different reasons, and so although being attached to devices and social media can hinder friendships, a simple text could be all that it needs to get back in touch with someone you’ve drifted from. Finding the balance of face-to-face time with friends and digital communication seems to be one of the ways forward and take it from me, managing a long distance friendship or relationship isn’t always easy with digital communication, it can be so easy for things to get misunderstood. So it’s one to think about, your support ‘circle’ doesn’t mean everyone has to know and get on with each other, it just means you’re there for them & they’re there for you, whether you’re communicating with or without digital communication.

Let’s talk: wellbeing

Hey – so today wellness & wellbeing are two topics very much at the forefront of my mind. Behind every smile there’s a story & my story is definitely taking it’s ups & downs at the moment. This week, I was reminded of how far I’ve come, and maybe one day I’ll be ready to talk about that.

But for now, I’ve got the ‘A Star is Born’ soundtrack blaring, and I want to talk about the main ways I’ve tried to manage my wellbeing, build resilience & still ‘be a force of nature’ especially when I may not always feel so ‘well’.

Most of us don’t choose the bad things that happen to us so I guess the first way to mention is to find your outlet to ‘escape’ the bad things. For me, it’s writing, putting it all down on paper; thoughts, feelings, fears. Some days it might be easier not to do this, but I’ve started scheduling a time each day to just note how I’m feeling, to look back on & recognise where the good outweighs the bad or vice versa. An outlet should reduce the emotions you hold in, especially as emotions have their own way of escalating and erupting at times. Use the outlet you have, whether that be writing, drawing, singing, dancing, to reflect and process what is in your world at the moment, good & bad.

Putting yourself first in situations may not come so naturally, I definitely always wanted to say ‘yes’ to invites and put myself outside of the ‘comfort zone’. But now, understanding when I need time to myself has become much more apparent, and this is building resilience in itself, with the world telling us to take every opportunity with both hands – yes definitely, but take care of yourself too, you don’t have to be busy every evening or every weekend, it’s okay to stop for a bit.

But in balance, lets not forget your support circle. Sometimes when you’re not feeling so great, those core people will show themselves & you’ll know who is best to talk to and to rely on, and in turn you’ll do the same for them.

This quote resonates with me so much, knowing that your support circle are there to uplift you, as much as you are there to uplift them, then you can get through pretty much anything!

Here’s to taking care of our wellbeing & fighting all battles in 2019 ❤

Beating the January Blues

Okay, I’m not sure how this has happened but we’re mid January now. It feels like the longest three weeks ever, but in some way I’m like sorry how?!

Feeling like I’m fully in the swing of things now and I definitely love this time of year for setting goals and plans for the upcoming year. But I know there can be a pressure of how to improve on the last year.

After the last couple of months of 2018, I will definitely hope that 2019 is filled with much more positivity. But going back why I’m not doing a ‘new year diet’ this year (previous blog post if you fancy a read!), I’m hoping for a happy and healthy 2019, all year round. 

January CAN be stressful, the build up to Christmas may have shifted your priorities, leaving a huge to-do list to be completed with a new year motivation. The new year is great for finding that bit of motivation you need, but the overwhelming side isn’t always mentioned. 2019 is the year I’ve decided to be a lot more mindful towards how I’m feeling, whether I’m too tired or stressed and in a sense, self-care is the way to manage that, so let’s talk about how we can do that…

Mind Organisation … for me, I think this could be one of the biggest changes to realise. Often, my mind is going at 100 miles and in a way I’ve become accustomed to that, instead of realising that I can actually change it. There are many ways that you can try to organise your mind, whether that’s through meditation, writing things down, compiling a list of goals, assessing your financial situation etc. Sorting through what your mind is worrying about will hopefully improve sleep, giving you more time to switch off, of which can help you be more productive when you need to be.

Taking time out .. To be honest, I feel this is quite an important one, as we all take breaks in different ways. But thinking back to high school days, when the arguments always tended to occur towards the end of term, in a way I think that still rings true today. Sometimes taking some time out to reflect on what’s on around you and the relationships you are engaging in, can put things into a much greater perspective, whether that’s a positive or a negative. Taking time out doesn’t have to be a chilled evening in once in a while, but doing things you love (in my case, going for brunch), in turn helping reflection as you remind yourself how much you love it and how you want to make more time for it etc.

Have a pamper .. Typical one here I know, but hey, if it’s a tried and tested method, it’s got to work right? This might not be hours and hours of baths, face masks, the lot, but more taking the extra five minutes in a morning to do a proper skin-care routine, taking five mins to meditate at the end of a busy day, small things that might make a huge difference to your daily routine.

It might not be the most life-changing list of how to improve your self-care, but I think it can be easy to get caught up in the aspect of ‘I must make more time to do this to switch off etc etc’. Adding these into your day-to-day routine makes it so much easier to manage, especially with v busy lives! Here’s to be kinder to ourselves for 2019 ❤

The ‘In-Between’ Size

Okay, so lets talk clothing sizes. Although I fit into clothes sizes that high street brands typically stock, I’ve always found that I’m never just ‘one’ size. One size is always slightly too big, the other is too small and on my last shopping trip, I brought four items of clothing in four different sizes! For a while, it did bother me as I’d take multiple sizes into the changing room, feel like I’m spending hours in there and still not be sure which size is fitting quite right.

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Although it’s taking time with my own body confidence, I am definitely here for the #AverageGirlSize movement that I have began to see from my favourite people on Instagram and that in turn, has lifted my own confidence.

Figuring out your own style can help massively in terms of confidence, and this has taken some time too! There are many types of clothes that I thought I could never wear, but it is how you make them work for you. I’m more likely to wear a bigger top with shorts to feel more confident, or to wear floaty trousers instead of shorts in the summer.

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Personally, I think it’s difficult if you are feeling insecure to accept your size, when there is no representation. Being an ‘in-between’ size, I have found this is often the case and online shopping tricky as the items I buy, will obviously not look the same on my body type as they do on the pictures of the model. So, my orders normally end up being a few items in multiple sizes, feeling disappointed when they don’t look right, resulting in time spent in the Post Office returns queue!

But, the fashion industry is changing and that’s incredible. The game-changer for me on my last shopping trip was Topshop jeans as I could buy my exact waist size. ASOS are leading the crowd online by using untouched photos of models for their swimwear and beginning to show what the same clothes look like on different sized models, which is the start of the representation for all sizes that will hopefully continue to thrive!

Body positivity is something that really needs to be encouraged, especially in an age of social media comparisons. Rather than nit-picking the negative parts of our bodies, we should be embracing the positives and wearing what we want to with pride!

 

 

 

Learning To Relax

As I mentioned in my last post, I have just had a month of second year exams, which have been pretty stressful and for the time being, despite worrying about results, it’s very good to say that they are over. In the months leading up to the exams, I’ve been in the routine of revising every day, apart from the occasional morning or afternoon off, so when it came to the end, it was actually pretty strange.

Now, I am someone who does really like routine, that’s not the same for everyone I know. But I like to keep busy, and often feel quite lost when I feel as though I have nothing to do with my day. So I thought I’d share what I’ve been doing to teach myself to relax.

  • Get out and explore – although my uni house and home are very chilled places for me, getting out for a walk or a run (more on why I love couch to 5K in another post) has been really good. The beautiful weather over the last couple of weeks has definitely helped and through exploring, I’ve found a pretty good route for the time being!

  • Tick off the bucket list – no matter where you live, there has to be something that you’ve been meaning to do but never got around to doing. I had a few places that I wanted to explore in Birmingham before heading home for the summer and so to tick off the bucket list so far, I’ve had a fab Friday night at Digbeth Dining Club and a chilled Sunday afternoon in Winterbourne House and Gardens.

  • Find a new focus – with exams and deadlines, your mind is going to be focused on when your next exam/deadline is and what you have to do before then. Whereas, once that focus is taken away, it can be quite easy to slump into negative thoughts. So by channelling my focus elsewhere, whether that be into a sport, into writing, into a new TV show (Would definitely recommend giving The Split on BBC1 a watch!), can be a really relaxing focus for your mind.

So, those are three ways which I’ve found helpful to ease me into a more relaxed routine, of course after the post-exams Netflix binge!