hands holding a candle

3 Little Reminders for When You Are Feeling Stressed

Are you feeling stressed? This post might help to take away some of the things which are on your mind and are continuing to put a strain on you. Or at least, I hope it helps you to find a different perspective.

We all feel stressed from time to time and there are different coping mechanisms that work for each of us. Stress can cause many anxieties but there is a way to fight back if you take control. Feeling under pressure or worrying about situations, even the smallest things or events that haven’t even happened, there’s a type of stress which hits us all. For someone who suffers with a number of conditions that can be worsened by stress, I need to start taking a leaf or two out of my own book!

Why not think about these reminders below…

This period of time is temporary and will pass

What you are feeling so low about? Do you think it’ll matter in a few weeks, months, or a year from now? I like to think that challenges arise to test us but we can learn how we react to certain situations which also encourages us to grow. I have experienced this on both a professional and personal level. Learning to find a coping mechanism like taking deep breaths, or having a quick break from the thoughts swimming around in my head, seems to help. Sometimes, you have to remove yourself from the environment that’s making you feel this way.

There is guaranteed to be things in your life that make you feel happy and grateful to have. So, next time you are feeling stressed, focus on those positive things to help make you smile.

Always remember to switch off

It doesn’t matter if you need to switch off from work, family matters, friendship/relationship problems, or to come away from something personal, do it. I have struggled with this one before now and too many times, I have let negative thoughts beat me up inside. My mind has been overblown to the point where I don’t understand anything, yet I’ll still quietly say “yes” or agree to everything because I am mentally and physically drained to say anything different.

Also, another thing to mention, about life in general is, we aren’t here to just sit around and question why someone thinks what they do. It’s your responsibility to live your life how you want to live it and accept that people will always have something to say whether you like it or not.

Pay attention to things that settle you

What helps you the most when it comes to removing yourself from a stressful scenario? I can think of more than a few things, can you relate to any of these? A hug, something to make you laugh, having a soak in the bath, going for a walk to clear your head, listening to music, the list goes on…

When stress triggers had hit me in the past, and were much more long-term, I completed a mindfulness course online and it worked wonders! Give it a go if you haven’t already.

Remember, try not to create scenarios in your head when they haven’t happened yet or might not even happen at all. It’s quite hard for us perfectionists when trying not to stress if things don’t go exactly how you wanted them to but these things happen and it’s just how life can be.

You might also like to read: 5 Ways to Wind Down and Relax

running trainers on path

Finding a Love for Running Continues…

Running – some love it and some hate it. I never classed myself as a ‘runner’ until I started to beyond the professional and competitive side. I started to enjoy running more once I did it in my own time and noticed the many benefits along the way for my own body. Up until June this year, I hadn’t ran since March on the treadmill in the gym. Due to the mixture of lockdown, feeling sluggish and having quite low thoughts, I needed to do something. I wanted to find something to focus on. That’s when I realised that I could try to discover a new running journey.

You might ask, how did I get into running?

Back in school I always took part in the relay for Sports Day and 100 metre sprints here and there. I didn’t hate cross country but I wouldn’t say I loved it neither. As for the bleep test, I weirdly looked forward to that because I always up for a challenge to see how far I could push myself.

Fast forward a few years, I’m onto a few cardio workouts in the gym. Nothing too strenuous but a fair bit to keep myself fit. Alongside the cross trainer and treadmill, I absolutely love strength workouts, particular strengthening my legs and arms. Now those, I really miss!

Some of you may already know that fundraising for charity isn’t new to me. Over the years I have fundraised for St Ann’s Hospice, Tommy’s, Alzheimer’s Society, British Heart Foundation, and Cancer Research UK. Two of these occasions included participating in a running event. So, it comes as no surprise that I found myself searching for a new charity fundraiser, which I’ll touch on below.

Work on your own goals

The thing I’ve found with fitness and exercise is that, you don’t have to follow what everybody else is doing. You can particulate in any shape of sport or exercise at your own pace and do what works for you. It’s always good to set yourself little challenges but there’s no need to compare to anybody else’s lengths, times, and strength. For me, feeling stronger starts mentally. Using exercise to take away irrelevant or low thoughts, especially on this running journey, as it’s something which has significantly changed my outlook on things.

I find myself feeling accomplished at the end of each run. I am determined and more focused on positive things e.g. doing things for me and trying to less critical of my appearance and how I am. It’s a way for me to keep active, explore the outdoors (great for my photography page), and release any negative energy. All of these benefits and more make it worth the while, donating for a good cause at the same time.

100 for 100 challenge

My current challenge, running 100k for £100 has been pleasing so far. I’m so thankful for my amazing 22 supporters who have helped me to exceed my fundraising target already. Here’s to 20th July when I will have completed the full distance, in time to commemorate grandad’s heavenly birthday on 22nd July.

All donations are sent to The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, in memory of my grandad and all of those who have/had visual impairments. For more information visit my JustGiving page.

rainbow drawing outside with chalk

Hold on in There… A Life After Lockdown Awaits

Another week in the UK lockdown has passed but is slowly phasing out with less restrictions e.g. unlimited time to exercise and going for a walk with someone outside of your household bearing social distancing is in place. I recently held a poll on Facebook and Twitter, asking my friends and followers what they are looking forward to the most post-lockdown. The answers to choose from were:

A. Hug from a family member
B. Seeing friends
C. Leisure services resuming
D. All shops reopening

On Facebook, 83% said ‘hug from a family member’ with 59% holding the same answer on Twitter. It’s nice to see the majority of respondents have the same outlook as me. I’m so excited for the moment to hug my mum, dad, and brothers. There have a number of occasions where I’ve seen my mum from a distance and just want to run and hug her. To the honest, I miss all 4 of the above, of course I do! However, the freedom of being close to family is the hardest part throughout all of this. Also, most of my friends live a bit of distance from me too.

Can you imagine what life is going to like after lockdown?

For some, life might not seem so different now or after lockdown. However, for the more active and outdoorsy people there are, the life is come is something to look forward to. Though, at the same time, it’s still quite a scary thought. Many of us want to see our friends, celebrate, get back to the gym etc. but it’s important that we continue to take precautions. I’m sure we can all continue to implement these changes into our daily routines.

What’s the biggest impact lockdown has on travel for me?

At the moment, I’m adamant that I will not travel via public transport. I haven’t been on the bus since mid-March, which is my usual method of transport to and from work along with walking for 40% – 50% of it. Other than really miserable days with rain and wind, nothing bothers me about walking. In fact, anyone that knows me, sees the explorer in me. I’ve found it really difficult to spend a full day in the house without going somewhere. It’s in my nature, I have to go outside! So, planning trips to work when that time comes will mean putting some extra aside in the morning.

Optimising cleanliness and hygiene

As much as I’m fed up of all of this, which I’m sure many of you are too, I’m still taking it very seriously. For example, I haven’t entered anybody else’s house other than my own. Keeping things clean is no change and I’ve always that down to a tee – another thing that’s in my nature! The same goes for handing washing – a dispenser in the kitchen, downstairs toilet and each of the bathrooms upstairs. Pre-lockdown, I kept hand sanitiser in my bag the odd time but all the time now and also in the hallway of the house. I find myself being much wearier of what I’m touching e.g. shopping baskets, trolleys, items in a store that many people will have touched before me etc.

What exciting events in my life have been cancelled due to COVID-19?

Let’s start with the best one, New York. Many of you might think “Ah right, yeah, big holiday that.” Well yes, but that’s not why we’re so gutted. New York is the place I’ve always dreamt of returning to and I never knew who that would be with until Danny. When we became homeowners in 2019, we didn’t go away because we were putting everything into this year’s big trip. It’s okay though because I know we will get there, maybe next summer, we’ll see.

What else? Another big one – Kraków to see Alicia Keys. It’s funny actually… a group of us booked to go there for the fact that Alicia Keys was in Manchester when we would’ve been in New York. And now, neither of the two are happening! I haven’t been to Poland before and I love to visit new cities so I’m sure it would’ve been really fun. As for Alicia keys, I can’t even tell you… I was only wondering at the beginning of the year if she’ll tour again and how she hadn’t brought any new music out for a while then… her song played on the radio and she announced a world tour. Out of all the singers I’ve seen live, other than the Spice Girls, Alicia Keys has always been on the top of my ‘got to see’ list from an early age. One day eh!

Better days are coming…

We have come this far, what’s a little while longer? Frustrating I know, when all we want to do is resume to some kind of normality. And that we will, we just need to be a little more patient I suppose. The more people listen to the rules, the quicker that time might be. There’s bound to be low days. If you are feeling down, reach out to the people who you know will do their best to cheer you up over a little chat or video call.

Family and friends, see you all soon (I hope), I can’t wait for a hug!

river view with purple sky during sunset

Using the Lockdown as a Time for Reflection

Lockdown is treating us all in different ways. I’m enjoying the Monica in me, the extra time to clean, tidy and organise. I’m like a crazy woman running round the house with the music on full volume. My poor neighbours! As far as food is concerned, I’ll make it short, I think I’m eating too much of it… yes the scales do agree. Through it all, I’m lucky to still be working so I’m glad that holds onto some kind of sanity I have left.

Positive reflecting

Lockdown has sent a lot more ‘me time’ my way. I’ve spent quite a bit of time reflecting on – what’s important, what really matters, and coming to the realisation that I’ve eaten more packets of crisps than ever before. Seriously though, just the other week I had a sudden phase of calmness. I’d usually have something on my mind to worry about and it took one moment for everything to come flooding in to remind me that happiness is everything. No matter what that means for you, it matters, always.

Some of my time has been spent looking back at memories, reconnecting with old friends, getting closer to those who I wouldn’t tend to call or video call pre-lockdown life. The thing is though, it’s mainly my mum and dad that I video call and I spend the first 5-10 minutes laughing because I can’t help it. Does anyone else get that or is it just me?

Still missing friends and family of course

I can’t wait to go out and celebrate with my friends. Celebrate what? Just life itself and obviously that’ll be when it’s safe to do so. The moment where I get to hug my mum and dad is something I often think about. Ahhh, it makes me a bit emotional. Grandad’s anniversary is in a couple of weeks so I’ve got to stay in happy spirits. And in the back of my mind, is a reminder of uncle Dom’s anniversary next month, which will mark one whole year since he passed away.

If lockdown has taught me anything, it’s that time flies. I knew it already but wow… even though many of us are feeling a bit bored and fed up at times, I think it’s gone so fast. And for me, the positive reflection has really helped to get more of the positive mindset back that I missed. It’s hard to find things to occupy you 24/7 but remember that this wasn’t all for nothing. It’s important to stay safe and help to save lives.

Hold onto the people and things that help you

Who and what had made you happy throughout the coronavirus outbreak? Remind yourself of whoever and whatever that might be whenever you feel a little low. Here’s to more singalongs to myself, dancing whenever I feel like it, a clearer perspective and remembering how good it feels to smile as much as possible no matter what’s happening in the world.

close up of pink petal flowers

Things to Do During the Coronavirus Lockdown

As surreal as the lockdown in the UK might feel right now, there are plenty of things you can do to stay occupied. Unfortunately, for the most social groups of people this is probably quite difficult. Also, it can pose challenges for those who are out of/can’t work. I’m lucky enough to be working from home so I still have some kind of routine. It does feel strange not having to travel to and from the office and I miss seeing my colleagues face-to-face.

For the past 10 days I’ve had Coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms so I’ve stayed indoors (self-isolating). The only places I’ve been includes the bins at the front of the house and going into the back garden. Those who are on the COVID-19 high risk list have been urged to stay at home (shielding), whilst others are staying 2 metres apart (social distancing) and under restrictions to only go outside for:

  • Shopping for necessities
  • Exercise
  • Medical reasons
  • Traveling to and from work if ‘absolutely necessary’

Take advantage of the time you have to relax

If you’re anything like me and you struggle to just relax and chill, now is the time to understand why you should do it more often. ‘Me time’ is really important. I’ve talked about ways you can relax before. Pamper yourself or take the time do something you usually put aside because you don’t always have the time e.g. reading a new book, starting a blog etc.

Clean up and tidy up

I always find something to rearrange whether it’s clothes in the wardrobe, the cupboard under the sink, the medicine cabinet, you name it, there’s always something. Why did I have 6 boxes of plasters in the medicine cabinet, who knows? I love to organise and keep the house clean and tidy so this an everyday hobby for me.

Binge watch TV series or films

Okay, I’ll admit, I do this anyway. But there’s no harm is watching more right? Make the most of those Netflix subscriptions. I’m making the most of some girly series at the moment, including a bundle of Gilmore Girls episodes (my 3rd time watching the whole series from start to finish). And as Disney+ is out in the UK, you might as well sign up and be ready for all of your Disney favourites. I’m so looking forward to reliving my childhood!

Do some gardening

If you have the tools available, why not take the opportunity to venture into garden. It’s never really been on my to-do list before. However, since we moved into the new house last year, the back garden has been an area I like to spend my time in, when the weather is nice enough. I’ve had fun tidying the garden, cleaning the patio, and painting the fence.

Keep in touch with family and friends

The most important one on the list. Check in on your family and friends. And don’t forget about your neighbours, especially those who are vulnerable. There are many options such as: a call, text, social media, instant messaging like WhatsApp, video calls e.g. FaceTime etc. Some groups of people are also using quiz/gaming apps to keep them in high spirits.

As miserable as everything seems at the moment, do something that you can look back on and know it was time well spent. Think about the positives and have a forward-thinking perspective to keep you motivated.

field of spring flowers

There’s Always a Reason to Smile

In the midst of all the Coronavirus (COVID-19) worry across the world right now, there ought to be something out there to create some happiness. It all seems quite surreal doesn’t it? I’d like to play my part and share this post which stems from the idea that there are plenty of reasons to smile, 4 of which hold a lot of relevancy to the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Kindness

As the Coronavirus outbreak increases, I’ve seen panic buyers at the shops, some selfish acts – overbuying and not giving others (mostly those which are more vulnerable, havie children, elderly etc.) the chance to purchase essentials items. However, I’ve seen many acts of kindness amongst all of the madness. Stores across the UK such as Iceland, M&S and Sainsbury’s are offering an hour in the morning for the elderly and vulnerable people to shop. There are also people in their local communities working hard to create packages for the people most in need. And it goes without saying that, the NHS are doing an incredible job looking after those who are hospitalised and emergency services are increasing their efforts to help.

Spring

20th March 2020 marks the first day of spring here in the UK. It’s a time of year that always makes me smile. As we slowly move away from the wintry weather (or at least we hope) it’s exciting to look forward to the sunshine and brighter days. There’s something about the appearance of colourful flowers and daffodils that makes me smile. It also means we’re closer to summer. Even if we don’t know how summer will play out at the moment we can still hope for good things. One thing that comes to mind is the old buttercup challenge from my childhood, you know the one where you would put a buttercup under your chin to see if there’s a yellow reflection to show if you ‘like butter’?! My grandad used to do this every spring when I was a little girl. It’s the littlest thing but it makes me so happy when I think about that.

Relaxation

I know this is harder for some than it is for others. If the stress is hitting you hard at the moment with work situations, money, concerns about your health or of a friend/family member, find some relaxation techniques that work for you. For me, a long soak in the bath and a cuddle from my favourite person in the world helps. The biggest kick in reality is that, sometimes there isn’t much you can do to stop situation. But together, we can help it e.g. self-isolate when necessary, social distancing, listening to the expert advice etc. Throughout it all, try your best to stay calm, surround yourself with positive thoughts and keep in touch with friends and family members to check in on them.

Music

I really do believe that there’s a song for every kind of mood. There’s music to help you concentrate, relax, sing your heart out in the shower… you know what works for you. Listening to music is something I do on a daily basis. I’m not quite sure what I’d do without it. It has the power to boost my mood and helps me put my thoughts into perspective. On days like today it’s important to find the the things that help to better your mood and keep you in high spirits. Let music be a part of it!

Look after yourselves everyone and remember to be kind, especially in all of the craziness that’s happening in world right now. And remember, the impact a smile, or doing something to make someone smile has. Especially, for those who need it the most right now, it’s something small, but very meaningful.