A Self-Care List for Everyday

The first thing that comes to mind when I think ‘self-care’ is a face mask to be honest. A good step to making yourself feel pampered and I’m sure we’ll agree that a face mask does make us feel fabulous but it’s not the fundamental element of daily self-care. We live in a society where we are reminded about self-care – like drink enough water, get a good nights sleep etc. But let’s cut to the real elements of self-care, it is simply the role in protecting your own well-being, increasing your energy and an attempt to reduce your stress.

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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!

Setting Self-Care Goals for 2020

Creating goals for the new year might seem a little cliche, but I’m here for it. Has anyone mentioned that we are starting a new decade?

Time feels like it is going a million miles an hour at the moment and being in my final year at university, the obvious goals for 2020 will be completing my degree and hopefully securing a job for after graduation. Quite a lot of pressure seems to be riding on this year, right?

I do really like the idea of ‘starting afresh’, opening up the chapter to the new year and setting goals is one of the ways to get my thoughts in order. Thinking about the year ahead has made me realise that I need to make time for myself, so the goals for me this year will be more simplistic but hopefully easier to keep on top of.

Yoga once a week. I started 2019 going to weekly yoga classes but had about 2/3 months where I didn’t do any. That time made me realise how much I’d missed it, so getting back into yoga classes at university has been so good (and kept me sane!). The plan is to set aside time every week to do yoga, whether that’s a class, a YouTube video or a combination of my favourite moves.

Reflect and Journal as much as possible. I’m not setting a ‘measurable’ on this one but hopefully it’ll become a habit. This year I started using a bullet journal (you can read about my September bullet journal here) and it was set out in a way to manage blog posts/university/mental health. I want to do more of this in 2020 as I find the process of setting out my journal creative and by reflecting over time, this should help get my thoughts in order. I’ve also started working my way through Fearne Cotton’s Happy and Calm books which I’m finding really good so far!

Read 20 Books. 20 books for 2020 right? I’m a pretty quick reader when I want to be and give me a good fiction book, I’ll plough through it as quickly as possible when I’m hooked. I read 10 books over July and August but as soon as I settled back into University, my reading definitely took a back seat. Setting a yearly target (as inspired by TheAnnaEdit) will work through the ebbs and flows of my motivation for reading. I’ll keep track of this on my instagram if that is something you’re interested in!

Healthy Eating. A few years ago, I decided that I need to scrap the ‘new years diet’. Typically, I became frustrated that I couldn’t stay on track. Over the years, I’ve learnt more about intuitive eating (Tally Rye has really good info on this!) and being a vegetarian has made me feel better. I’ve got used to the recipes I make regularly now so 2020 will be the year of exploring more recipes that will be healthy and delicious!

That’s all from me for 2019! Hope you’ve had a wonderful Christmas break and are feeling ready for the New Year. What are your goals/resolutions for 2020? Let me know how you get on!

Im x

New Beginnings & Setting Goals

I don’t know about you, but I love the feeling of starting ‘new’. I love the start of January, feeling ready for the new year to start, but after 21 years in education now, September will always have ‘back to school’ vibes! This tends to mean I normally buy myself all the stationary possible to be ready for the academic year, but this year it has a slightly different meaning.

A year ago, I had my first epileptic seizure. It was a huge shock, as I was just settling into a new job, it was completely out of the blue & all of a sudden my life turned upside down. I knew pretty much nothing about seizures & epilepsy beforehand & as one in 20 people will have an epileptic seizure at some point in their life, I would definitely recommend checking out the Epilepsy Society’s website to learn more, I wish I knew more before hand.

The loss of independence was one of the hardest things, not being able to drive where I live was complicated. It’s been a year of ‘carrying on’ & I’ve had some incredible support to do so, but I’m ready to close the chapter & open the next.

So, my final year at University will be the next chapter & I’m *kinda* ready for it. I’m very nervous about having to write a dissertation & after a year living at home in the countryside, living in the city excites me but scares me at the same time. It’s feeling a lil bit like a roller-coaster. But as the new chapter opens, it’s time to set some goals.

1. Exercise 3 times a week

Yes, I’ve brought a uni gym membership. There’s no excuses now & that’s good, I want to use it for my own well being, rather than focusing on the ‘weight loss’. Final year is going to be tough & getting endorphins from exercise will hopefully help relieve the stress.

2. Use a typical ‘working’ day for uni work

After spending a year in full-time work, this should be fine. Previous years at uni have had less of a routine, but I know doing so this year will keep me on track.

3. Stick to a blog post schedule

This blog isn’t going anywhere! It’s my creative outlet & I love that, I want to keep writing content that not only I enjoy, but hopefully you do too! Keeping with the routine for uni work, I’ll fit the blog in alongside, whether that’s making the most of a gap between lectures, evenings or weekends, I know that writing helps my well being too.

4. Strive to be the best version of myself

After everything that has happened this year, I’ve had a few ‘wobbles’ & doubts about myself. By focusing on myself & what I want to do, hopefully my mindset will be positive & that’ll reflect in my relationships with people.

What have your goals been this year? Let me know how you have got on with them!

Im x

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48 Hours in Hereford

One of my favourite things about the UK, is that there are still so many places that I haven’t explored. Hereford is only an hours train ride from Birmingham, making it so easy to get there, but as the weekends have the tendency to fly by, I did my research to see as much of city as possible (especially as the weather was predicting floods but we’ll get onto that!). Here’s my list to make the most of Hereford in 48 hours.

First Stop: Hereford Cider Museum – to be honest the weather was miserable already so the Cider Museum was a perfect escape from it all! It’s about a 15-20 min walk from the train station so we were already getting the steps in. The museum is really reasonably priced, I think we paid £3 for a student ticket, and there’s plenty of info to learn about Hereford’s speciality, all of which you can see in the cider sellers. The admission priced includes samples of cider at the end, all of which you can buy in the shop. We picked up one of the Fair Oak ciders which is sparkling and it was definitely my favourite out of the samples!

For lunch, we headed to Cafe Bodega, which was perfect for a quick pit-stop. It’s a beautiful family-run cafe, close to the cathedral, offering a wide-range of choice on the menu, including my fave – a mozzarella, pesto & tomato panini!

Since we were so close to the Cathedral, this was our next point of call. I’m really starting to appreciate the beautiful architecture of a Cathedral and after we visited so many through our interailing trip, I think we might need a Cathedral checklist now! The Thomas Traherne stained glass windows have been restored and they are absolutely stunning, I probably could have sat & looked at them for hours.

Since the weather wasn’t getting better and the hotel had an early check in, we decided to head there for the afternoon. In a way, I’d say the hotel was one of the highlights of our stay because it was just stunning. Castle House hotel is Grade II listed Georgian villa, located right on the River Wye and although it is located really close to the centre, it feels like you are in the countryside. The room was beautiful, it felt classic but modern, and to be honest, I couldn’t get over the fact there was a fireplace in the bathroom. I was probably a bit too excited about the fact there were spa robes & slippers, but hey, it felt completely luxurious okay?

For dinner, we headed to Cellar Door after seeing great reviews online, and it definitely didn’t disappoint. All of their produce is locally sourced and there was more opportunity to sample Hereford’s cider. I went for a rhubarb cider, paired with Camembert to start and a Veggie burger main, you can’t go wrong really! The atmosphere in Cellar Door was really good, it was clear that this restaurant and bar attracts everyone and after spending an evening there, I can see why!

Waking up at Castle House hotel felt a bit like a dream, the sun was streaming through the windows (completely different weather to the day before!) and we had a great view of the castle grounds. Breakfast was served in a dining room overlooking their garden & the river, with plenty of veggie cooked breakfast options and continental options (ie. eat as many croissants as you want), it is safe to say I ate well over the weekend!!

Checking out of the hotel definitely felt sad, I could have got used to the luxury! There was the option to leave our bags at the hotel which was really helpful as we’d decided to walk along the river paths. We got so far, admiring the views of the river before realising it was all a bit too flooded to walk through in converse (rooky error there!). Headed to Cafe #1 for coffee & cake as a pit-stop before continuing to spend the afternoon shopping in all of Hereford’s independent shops where I picked up some really cute gifts.

Before we knew it, it was time to head home. Hereford to me was the perfect place to get away and relax, I came back to reality feeling refreshed.

Where are your favourite places to escape for a weekend away?

Im x

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 ❤

A City Guide to Bath

To make the most of the Christmas break from work, I headed to Bath the day after Boxing Day with my family, for time to explore and relax in the gorgeous city. As one of England’s most historical cities, there was more than enough to explore so I’ve complied a quick city guide in-case you need some inspiration of wheres best to head to!

Arriving at around lunch-time, the independent cafe’s were well and truly in full swing. There were plenty to choose from but at prime-time for lunch with 7 of us in total, we had to do a bit of a cafe tour before residing at Good Day Cafe, where there was a huge table in the middle of a very aesthetically pleasing cafe. Good Day Cafe cater for pretty much everyone and are more than willing to do so, I loved the ‘Beetroot & Feta’ wrap for a veggie food option and paired it with a Beetroot Matcha Latte to try something different.

The weather in Bath was pretty beautiful to say it was December, but even if the weather isn’t great, one of the best places to visit in Bath is the Royal Crescent. It may be a major tourist attraction, but it is definitely one of the iconic landmarks in Bath as there are thirty Grade I listed terrace houses formed in a sweeping crescent overlooking Royal Victoria Park. Perfect to walk around and admire the Georgian architecture.

To continue the walking tour, it is worth popping into the Botanical Gardens as it is very close-by to Royal Crescent. Although I can imagine spring and summer would be a much better time to visit the Botanical Gardens, it is incredibly tranquil in this neck of the woods and wandering through gives the impression that you are miles away from the city.

As it was approaching late afternoon, we headed back into the centre and visited Bath Abbey. It is a stunning piece of architecture and definitely worth walking round to admire.

It was time for a quick pit-stop cocktail at The Cosy Club, before heading back to the apartment for the evening. The Cosy Club is located in SouthGate, which is so easy to access and is very close to lots of shops in case you fancy popping in! The Cosy Club has a huge balcony with outdoor heaters, perfect for an evening drink, especially as Bath was looking very christmassy with all the lights.

We begun our second day in Bath with a visit to one of the most popular tourist attractions, The Roman Baths. Steeped in history, there is plenty to learn here and your ticket price (£14.50 for a student) includes an audio guide which will tell you pretty much everything you could ever want to know about the Roman Baths. There are plenty of exhibits as you walk through the Roman Baths, so more than enough information to choose from!

After pretty much two hours spent at the Roman Baths, it was time for a pit-stop so we headed to Sally Lunns for a late lunch. I’d heard that this was one of the best places to check out in Bath and it definitely is. Sally Lunn’s Historic Eating House and Museum is located just off York Street, around the back of Bath Abbey. The very traditional English tea-room is in the oldest house in Bath, home to the famous ‘Sally Lunn’ bun in 1680. The buns have been made with the same recipe for centuries, so it is worth noting that the recipe includes milk and eggs as a heads up, but the menu is extensive with all the savoury and sweet toppings that you can have on the bun, as well as many other options. Pesto and roasted vegetables was my choice for the bun and it was so delicious.

To finish our trip in Bath, it was one last walk around the city, down to Pulteney Bridge. There’s plenty of independent shops and cafes along the bridge, along with the views of the River Avon, so it is definitely a good place to stretch your legs before a long car journey!

Bath is a beautiful city, steeped in gorgeous architecture and history, it’s hard not to learn about this city’s past as you walk through. There’s plenty to see in the city, but I’ll have to be back to visit the Thermae Spa!