The value of ‘doing you’

We hear a lot around the subject of ‘self-care’ and ‘self-love’ these days, but how many of us are good at giving ourselves the space and time we need to actually follow through with it?

The idea of simply looking after yourself may seem like a necessity to most people, but more often than not, our lives run away with us and we find stress creeping into our daily routine.

These stresses, which manifest themselves in many different, inconvenient ways, can affect not only our own wellbeing, but also that of our friends, loved ones and even acquaintances. Basically, not where any of us want to be.

Over time, stress can lead to more serious symptoms such as fatigue, insomnia, mood swings and erratic behaviour, which if left unresolved, impact the way we interact with others in our day to day lives.

Preventative practices of self-care are the best possible defence against these things and while it isn’t about putting yourself before others, it’s about making sure that your health and wellbeing take priority so that you’re emotionally and physically equipped to care for others.

In the words of RuPaul, ‘if you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else.’ AMEEEEEN.

Everyone needs space to breathe from time to time, and looking after you means listening to the signs your body is giving you and not pushing yourself to the point of burnout. So take a break, have a lie in, break at the candles or disappear off to a different country for a week (I often find that helps). Just do you boo.

What mindfulness means to me

There’s no doubt about it, mindfulness is officially a ‘buzzword’ – but what does it actually mean? It’s obviously a very subjective thing, but personally, I find it very easy to talk about how I see it and how it impacts my life…

For me, mindfulness involves taking a step back, genuinely experiencing the moments in your life, and in turn, finding positivity and happiness in things that may otherwise go unnoticed. It can be anything from feeling the sun on your face to having a fucking good burger – it might even be washing the damn dishes…

It’s simply taking the time to have a moment & say ‘‘you know what, I’m happy right now.”

Another prong to the ‘mindfulness fork’ (#selfcarecutlery), is about being aware of your impact on others around you. It’s very true that you can’t please everyone all the time (you’re not Nutella), but taking time to think about how you interact with friends, family, colleagues and even strangers is only going to bring some of that sweet karma around your way.

I’ve been making mindfulness a big part of my day for the past few months, trying to make actions as meaningful as possible and I feel like it has made me a more positive and appreciative person overall.

I feel like I can enjoy the ‘little things’ more these days.

Everyone has their own ideas on what mindfulness means to them, and I guess that’s the beauty of it in a way, as long as it keeps people thinking about their own mental wellbeing and the world around them.

My new favourite bath

I was beyond excited to find Rituals in the Champs-Élysées branch of Sephora last weekend. And damn was I right to be…

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to meet with two of the Rituals team and find out more about the brand and their ‘slow down’ mantra. I can really get on board with the idea of getting more mindful about your day and taking more time with your every day, creating these little ‘rituals’ of your own.

I was pretty much immediately drawn to the ‘Ritual of Hammam’ collection, mainly for the intense scent of that ginger & eucalyptus salt scrub (it’s unreal). So, I bagged myself this little taster set with travel sizes of three of their bestsellers and took my happy little tush back to the UK (we need to start an online movement to get Sephora back here, I can’t cope)

Fast forward a few days and I’m back at home, aching like a bitch and ready to make my ultimate bath…we’re talking candles, spa music, cucumber slice-shaped eye masks (thanks Primark), the absolute works. But the products themselves are what I’m here for…

Yes, shower gel, but one squirt of this while the water is running, and it moonlights as the perfect bath soak. It’s really strong with eucalyptus, which is usually quite overpowering, but the warmth from the rosemary makes it just feel incredibly comforting. This scent is definitely a happy place for me now.

I live for a good body scrub. And this, is a good body scrub. In place of rosemary, eucalyptus is paired with ginger, which is a body care favourite of mine. This makes the whole thing zingy, refreshing, and just pleasing in every imaginable sense. My whole self loves this fiercely, my only sadness was wishing I’d bought the full-sized pot…

Not a criticism, but I expected this to be thicker and richer. Watch you actually get is a perfectly balanced fragrance and a texture that glides into your skin like actual pearls. It’s not a butter, it’s a true cream, and it absorbs in seconds. And for the scent, we’re back with the soothing eucalyptus and rosemary combo, which is the perfect end note to the whole experience.

This is officially my new favourite bathing routine. It’s one of those end of a long week moments that you can really look forward to and spend your days dreaming about. Teaming all of this up with my Santorini candle from Glasshouse Fragrances (which I have spent my weekends raiding TKMaxx for) and it really is the stuff dreams are made of – I can’t recommend this collection enough and I’ll definitely be trying more.

Let’s talk about alcohol

“I’m not drinking”

Generally, the reaction I’ve experienced to these words has been pretty shocking. It starts with “why?” or “are you on meds?”, usually followed by a shit pregnancy joke and one of the following scenarios:

  • Just have one. You can have one. Why don’t you just have a few? You could leave your car. We’ll just get a taxi. Oh go on, just one.
  • Oh my goooood, I feel so baaaaad! I can’t drink if you’re not drinking too. *reluctantly sips large Sauvignon in between sentences*

Both are awful. So I’d like to break things down here…

The idea that what we see as ‘normal’ is filling yourself full of something that dehydrates you, encourages bad decision making and inhibits self-control, while also giving you an absolutely banging head the next day, just hit me like a ten-tonne lorry (more on that later) as ridiculous.

It was only by taking a look back that I really started to appreciate how the pattern had formed in my own life.

From around age 15, most people enter into the countdown to adulthood and with it, legal drinking. At this age, the world is against you, your friends are everything, and peer pressure fills the air in equal amounts to Impulse body spray. Jagerbombs & vodka very nearly killed me on more than one occasion. You’re expected to drink. And this inevitably sets a tone for the adulting we have to come…

Most of my adult social interactions have been based around alcohol. Bars, clubs, dinners…even the theatre. Everything starts with a drink or two.

And then you start to associate drinking with relaxing and unwinding and having fun.

And then you find yourself with a glass of wine (or three) every evening after a ‘hard day’ at work.

And then you don’t feel like you can have fun without having a drink.

And then you start to feel tired and fatigued all the time and your eating habits get hella crazy and you can’t quite put your finger on why you’re feeling so shite…

These aren’t necessarily all things that everyone goes through, and there can be any number of reasons for not feeling yourself, but alcohol is never going to help. Like ever.

It’s difficult to put into words how much cutting out alcohol for a few months has changed my life so far. I feel like I’ve got more hours in the day, I’m more motivated, I’ve lost weight, I feel more confident, my skin has improved massively…I basically feel like the best version of myself. Literally living my best life.

I would encourage anyone to try cutting down or cutting out alcohol, even for a few months. But most importantly, we need to shake this goddamn stigma attached to ‘not drinking’.

Pressuring someone who is making a choice not to drink, whatever their reason may be, is bollocks.

To anyone reading this, the next time you find yourself on either side of this situation, please stop and think. Don’t be part of the problem, and don’t let anyone bring your fine self down for making healthy choices.
You do you boo.

This isn’t a speech on how alcohol is the root of all evil, it’s just to say that nothing is a thing until we make it a thing.

And, for anyone who’s interested in going sober for good, or just wanting to have a short dry-spell, I’m going to be sharing my experiences around the world, including cocktails and mocktails alike.

Let me know your thoughts and keep an eye on the blog for my next adventures.

How to chill the f*ck out

I’ve come to realise that everyone has an existential crisis over their eyebrows, not being able to open something edible, the weather, Thursdays (worst day of the week by far) and 1,000,005 other nonsense things, at some point. It’s fine, we’ve all been there, you can put down the tweezers.

And then there are the times when there is nothing wrong at all…except there is. You just get irritable and start to hate people for breathing and feel like you’re never going to get comfortable again and your skin itches and none of your clothes fit and that’s it, everything’s going to be awful forever.

We all have these moments.

So I’m sharing the top ways which I like to de-stress and break out of emo mode.

It’s good for you and a wise woman once told me that you can’t drink and cry at the same time.

Guaranteed to make me feel refreshed in less than 10 minutes. It’s literally like you’re washing away all of your emotional shit. I try to buy one shower or skin product at the airport before I go on holiday and use it while I’m away. Then, when I get home, I keep it for times when I’m not feeling super cute and it immediately takes me back to amazing holiday memories.

Switching off and being on my own is just necessary sometimes, and it can get really hard to do when work involves being around people all day. Starting a blog has really helped on this front because I feel like I have a reason to hide away in a corner somewhere. I hear going for a walk or reading a book work just as well though.

There are tons of mindfulness apps out there right now, it’s a huge buzzword at the moment. I’ve heard really good things about the likes of Headspace, however, my digital meditation guide of choice is Calm. I started out with the ‘7 days of Calm’ feature and worked my way through the free bits (there are some great music tracks to help you focus & sleep – oh, and Stephen Fry can read you a bedtime story…) and then it’s £9.99 a month to unlock all of the content and keep getting your ‘Daily Calm’. It’s also very pretty – I’d recommend it to anyone who’s a sucker for nice branding and still wants something that will do the job. They even have a book to go alongside it.

This is my ultimate. I came across ASMR a few years ago now, and it’s got quite the cult following. You have to come at it with an open mind , but in short, the online application of ASMR involves some very patient and talented people, who happen to have extremely relaxing voices, acting out different situations for online videos in order to help viewers relax and/or sleep. Imagine someone reading you a bedtime story via the internet. It’s like that. My favourite, and the most subscribed to creator (ASMRtist) is Gentle Whispering ASMR. Check her out, she’s great.

So that’s my top 5. Everyone has their own ways of dealing with stress, but if you’re looking to try a different approach, I hope you can take something from this. Let me hear your thoughts and any tips you have for handling day-to-day stress.