Why I Stepped Away From Yoga.

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Yoga is such a special journey for some people and it’s become a constant release in my life that has been there for me during the good times and the bad times. Today I’m talking about how I feel about the practice at the minute, why I stepped away and how I’m slowly incorporating it back into my life again.

Monday nights were yoga nights for me. I went almost religiously for a few years, I then took a few months break and then I suddenly went back for a few months every Monday evening. I practiced in a studio that was a twenty second walk away from work so it was easy for me to get changed in work and head straight there. I have a blog post about Monday Syndrome and while I didn’t dread Monday’s too much, it was nice knowing I had something to look forward to that evening.

My mental health had slowly started to slip again at the beginning of the year but I continued to practice but the more my mental process slipped, the less I enjoyed the class. Yoga is about so many more elements than the body, and physically, I was connected. I could move with the teacher and the rest of the class without too many slip ups and considering where I started a few years ago, I had made amazing progress. However, I was too stuck in my own head and it was hard letting go for an hour when I couldn’t hear anything apart from my own thoughts. I often described it as being stuck in a box and having every negative thought and anything bad someone has ever said to you, being with you inside this box. You can’t escape it and the noise gets louder.

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I was no longer getting the true benefits of yoga and I had to make a decision. Did I continue paying for a class that through the fault of no-one, I was struggling to enjoy or did I take a break from the practice until I got my headspace back in check? For a while, I made the decision to slow down my practice from once a week to once a month with a special class that my teacher had set up focusing on learning more about the teachings of yoga. I fell in love with the concept but my mind still wouldn’t shut off.

From practicing once a week to once a month was a difficult change because while I’m not religious, it was something I done that felt very similar to a religious teaching, but I thought it might help me emotionally connect again and I really tried hard for a few months. I loved changing my routine because it meant jumping on the bus on a Sunday afternoon, picking up a tea at one of my favourite coffee shops and then having a short walk to the community centre where the class took place. I loved that it was on a Sunday afternoon because I liked starting fresh for the new work week. My headspace was very much the same for these classes and I struggled to focus on anything in the class, to the point where I couldn’t hear the silence during relaxation. I felt like I could hear my own thoughts and again, they were too loud.

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Comparision is a funny thing, isn’t it? I follow some wonderful yoga teachers online and I love watching their videos talking about their classes, their own journey or how they have combated their mental health journey with a yoga practice and I feel jealous. I’m jealous that I had to step back from yoga because my head wasn’t right but yoga works for them to correct their headspace. I almost question what is wrong with me but I know that everyone goes through their own journey with mental health but sometimes you can’t help but wonder, what is it about me? Am I doing something wrong? I try and not look at other people in that light because I know you shouldn’t compare your chapter one to someone’s chapter twenty. We all go through different points in our own lives and to compare yourself to others, it won’t even give you that little piece of relief you’re looking for. We’re all guilty of it but it’s learning more about self-awareness that will help you not go down that route so often.

Right now, my mental health isn’t on the right track but that’s something that I know the reasons behind and it’s going to take some time for me to become stronger again. I’m pushing myself out of my comfort zone when it comes to yoga; I went to a yoga workshop last month with the co-founder of my yoga organisation I have been practicing with since the beginning of my journey and while I didn’t feel like I was “completely there” in the workshop, I feel connected to a certain extent and I was more than happy with that. More recently, I went to a kundalini yoga workshop at a studio closer to home and while I had never experienced that type of class, it was an interesting concept and I would be open to trying it out again. Like the other class, sometimes I wasn’t completely connected but I was for the majority of the time, so mentally, I am getting there, even if it is at a slower rate than I would like.

Thank you so much for reading today’s post, it was another personal one for me and I quite like sharing these ones. I don’t share every single detail on why I feel the way I do but that’s a decision that I am more comfortable with. I hope it was an enjoyable read and if you were able to relate to it, I would love to hear your thoughts.

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Entrepreneurs and Mental Health: Michaela Pontiki

I’m back this week with another interview facilitated by FPComms with the wonderful Michaela Pontiki as part of my Entrepreneurs and Mental Health series. If you missed my interview last week with Latoya Lovell, I’ll link it right here. 

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(Photo Credit: Mi Business Mag)

First of all, for those who don’t know, can you tell me who you are and a little about your background in your career so far? 

I am Michaela Pontiki, the founder of Arapina bakery. I am an architect with a Masters in sustainable design and having worked in both industries, I decided to start my own business in the food & beverage sector.

Can you tell me the philosophy behind “Arapina“? 

We are an award winning Healthy Lifestyle Bakery, based on Mediterranean cooking, offering free from and low in options to a sophisticated clientele. We are here to offer food to those who suffer from various intolerances and or have physical or mental diseases. We believe that food can be your medicine.

There is so much information out there, especially online, about food. Do you think that there is too much information that people are overwhelmed when it comes to making the right food choices, especially if they are being told conflicting information? 

Definitely, companies are fighting for their own reputation and companies get it wrong a lot of the times, especially in today’s world when masses can be easily influenced by TV commercials and social medias platforms. And they get it wrong because they either don’t have the right information themselves or purposefully manipulating concepts for the sake of their personal profit. Either way is unacceptable and one should cross referenced sources of information that is readily available out there.

We talk a lot about super foods but unfortunately, we know that if people are overwhelmed, the benefits of certain foods may not be important because they may not know what information to trust. So, I want to know two of your favourite meals that not only have the nutritional benefits that your mind and body love but are a joy for you to make too? 

I don’t have much time in my hands so I need to be creative and seek easiness with my meals. So quick breakfast is natural greek yogurt, with organic blueberries, raw almonds, honey and cinnamon. Second best is almost any type of grilled fish with a vegetable ratatouille next to it.

Why should entrepreneurs be thinking more about the food they eat? I know that I’m guilty of saying “Oh I don’t have time to eat, I’m too busy” and I’m not even an entrepreneur. Talk to us about the remarkable impact food can have on our minds as well as our bodies. 

Imagine you own a fast car, but every time you try to speed up, the car does not accelerate to the level you want it to simply because the fuel you are putting to it is of poor quality. It is exactly the same with ones body. You want to “run”, physically and mentally but you probably can’t simply because you have not taken care your body and mind. One cannot fulfil their full potential with an underperforming fuel which in this case is food.

What do you think of the “busy” excuse? Is there such a thing? By saying this, are we not making ourselves a priority? 

It is a fact that we live in a society that keeps us busy and activated, so in a way yes, we are busy, but I would say that it is more of a matter of priorities, and that applies on many aspects of our lives. When we fail to call our friends, spend time with our family or not properly plan our meals, it simply means that this task is not high up on our priority list, because I am sure the same person would find the time to watch the new series on Netflix if this is what he/she would value more. So it is a matter of changing your mentality to change your priorities to help your body.

I can only imagine the pressure that you are under having your own business, do you think that that is something quite a lot of entrepreneurs struggle with? 

There are different types of businesses, businesses with different demands as well as businesses with different starting points. If we had to generalize business is not easy and yes, the pressures are high when running one.

For you, what is the difference between being stressed while starting your own business and your mental health slipping? 

Stress can be activating or stress can be destabilizing. It really depends on the space you allow stress to occupy in your life, the grade of stress you are suffering from and the way you approach stress itself. Sometimes it is a fine line between stress and mental health slipping.

If someone is finding it hard balancing their mental health while running their own business, what tips would you give them? What do you do when you are in their situation? 

Quit business, life is more important.

Finally, if anyone would like to find out any more information about you and the work you do, where can they go to do so? 

Follow us on our social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram) and keep an eye for podcasts and more interviews. If you are lacking this physical contact as most of us are in today’s world, come down to the bakery and ask for Michaela (by appointment only).

Again, a massive thank you to Nicola from FPComms for facilitating this interview and to the wonderful Michaela for taking time out of her day to answer my questions. I also got sent the most gorgeous chocolate covered almonds and bergamot preserve from the Arapina Bakery, so thank you so much for the treats!

 

Entrepreneurs and Mental Health: Latoya Lovell

As a society, it’s very clear we are talking more about mental health which for me, I couldn’t be happier about. With May being known as Mental Health Awareness Month, FPComms got in touch with me to see if I wanted to interview two entrepreneurs who champion the topic of mental health. Over the next two Sunday’s, I’ll be posting two interviews I conducted with two entrepreneurs. First up is Latoya Lovell! 

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If you’re not familiar with Latoya, she is an influencer, a soon-to-be novelist and a freelance writer from London. She has a new book coming out towards the end of 2019 which uses her experiences of her depression to bring her villain characters to life. She tells us where you can find her on social media at the end of the interview so I hope you enjoy!

(Disclaimer: As a warning before reading on, depression is one of the topics discussed and there could be a number of triggering words for some, so please take caution before reading.)

First of all, for those who don’t know, can you tell me who you are and a little about your background in your career so far? 

I started doing interviews for a magazine called We Are Collision and after realising how much I liked media working for them, I decided to master the Media Industry.

I believe you went through a stage of depression, in as much detail or as little as you would like, can you tell us about this? What’s your story with depression?

After a few years of working in the media industry I started to feel like I was letting people down when things went wrong. I was in a bad situationship with a male friend and when we stopped talking to me, he said it was because I disappointed him. At the time I never realised it was a trigger word for myself but it made me feel like I was disappointing everyone. I convinced myself I was going to disappoint my son and so I decided he would be better off without me. I wanted to complete suicide and I went and got my hair done and wrote a letter to him and sent messages to everyone saying goodbye. I left the salon and when I arrived home, my friend was sitting on my stairs waiting on me. She collected my son from school and looked after me for several days. We identified what I wanted to do over those several days and it also made me realise my triggers.

After this experience, you started to write your own series of books. Now, I know that they aren’t released yet but can you give us a sneak peek on what the first one is about and an insight into some of the characters? 

The book is based upon myself and my 2 best friends. We are a diverse bunch and I wanted to highlight how 3 different women from different cultural backgrounds still loved and embraced each other. How women empower each other but I decided to make us 16 with superpowers. I realized by showing the lead characters as how me and my friends look I could show younger girls that being natural is fine.

Did you find it healing writing about these experiences or did you find that initially it was hard having to look back to the battle you were fighting at that time?  

I actually used the book to write about how I wish my life had progressed with certain situations. Like I never spoke to my Biological Father before he passed but in the first chapter, there is a letter to myself from him. I guess it’s what I would’ve liked him to say to me but now I realise that even that isn’t needed because I am ok.

Social media plays a large part in many of our lives now, how much do you choose to share online? Do you share the positive and the negative, or do you still struggle (like many of us) to find that correct balance? 

Before I was someone who only wanted to highlight the positive because I believe in focusing on solutions. However, recently I have decided to show the negative but how I follow through to my solutions in hopes that people may use tools I am suggesting and it will help them live a better life mentally.

What do you do as a form of self-care when you start to notice that your mental health isn’t as balanced as you would like? 

First, I look at my environment and whether I am allowing the wrong people or putting myself into the wrong situations and I withdraw. As someone who likes to please sometimes, it is hard to say no but my mental health has to come first.

I have also learned how to do things alone like go to restaurants or the cinema things I would never have done before because I cared too much that people would judge me.

Lastly, I do activities that I know will release endorphins like exercise or eating chocolate because sometimes the little things really help.

How important has it been for you to be open and honest about your mental health with your children?  

My son now understands that I am human too and I make mistakes. However, in my household I say it’s like a job so he still understands that there are certain behaviours that are still not acceptable to a boss. I also try and show him that it is not an excuse, it is something to survive from and grow from. Mental Health will only stop us if we allow it.

For a parent or guardian who is currently experiencing their own mental health problem at the minute or have come out the other side, what advice would you have for them in order to be able to be open with their own children? 

To be honest, we give children a false perception of an adult and then when they go into the real world, sometimes they are not prepared. I try to make sure my son knows what the world is really like because otherwise he could fall into the trap I fell into and feel not good enough.

Finally, if anyone would like to find out any more information about you and the work you do, where can they go to do so? 

@LatoyaLovl on all the socials and www.latoyalovell.co.uk

Thank you so much to Nicola from FPComms for facilitating this interview with the lovely Latoya and thank you again to Latoya Lovell for taking the time out of her day to answer my questions.

Meditation May: A Month of Meditation

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With the start of a brand-new month (Yes, I’m very much into that cliché) I wanted to set myself a challenge outside my three-month goals (which I will link here) and I thought a daily practice with meditation would be perfect so that’s what today’s post is focused on. 

Meditation was a daily practice for me for quite a few months but as my mental health deteriorated, I no longer reached for my guided meditations and this also included my yoga practice. I went to a yoga class religiously on Monday evenings after work and it was fantastic then gradually I started to only practice once a month. The fact of the matter is when my head gets in a bad place, I’m so stuck in my own head that I can no longer feel the benefits of yoga. When I describe this feeling to people, I often describe I like this:  

Imagine you are on a hamster wheel going round and round but at the same time, you’re stuck in a box that you can’t get out of. Every negative thought and every negative thing that has ever been said to you is in the box and you can’t get out, you have to stand there. (If you’ve ever watched the Crystal Maze, imagine all the paper money in the dome that the contestants have to catch, are the thoughts and the words.)

Unsurprisingly it’s a very hard trap to get out of so I had to step back from yoga especially until I get my head and mindset back on track. I’m getting there but it’s still off track sometimes. Gradually over the last few days I have been getting into evening meditations again but I want to take it one step further and give myself that boost to do it daily so that’s where Meditation May comes from. 

Back in January, one of my favourite bloggers Madison started up a meditation challenge on her YouTube channel and Facebook group and it was so comforting to have a support group there who you could open up to about your meditation difficulties. I really enjoyed that challenge and while I didn’t manage to meditate every single day, I got very close. This is another part of my inspiration behind Meditation May because I noticed a massive difference in January with Madison’s challenge. 

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My plan for the month is very simple; I want to practice meditation for ten minutes a day every day and for the first two weeks I’m not going to push myself to practice twice a day, I’ll build that up over time. I’m planning on keeping a journal on the experience to note down what meditation I use, how long for, how I feel before and after and if there is a particular emotion I’m trying to work alongside. At the end of the month, I’ll be posting those journal entries to see how much of a difference it really made and how the month went overall. 

Over the month, I’ll be posting on my Instagram and my Twitter too and I’ll be using #MeditationMay as the hashtag. I’m sure I’m not the only one to be practicing this idea so I’m not claiming it as mine but if you fancy seeing some “live” progress, you know where I’ll be. With the Spring Clean season around too, I’m hoping that this will help me along the “fresh mindset” element of the new Spring time. 

Thank you so much for reading today’s post. Quite a light one today but it’s always good to start the month off nice and light. 

My Unconventional Relationship With Reading.

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As I grow older and start to think about having children down the line, it’s really important to me to read them bedtime stories and to try and carve reading into their daily lives outside the classroom. For me, I’m not an avid reader but I wish I was. I started to notice a few years ago that there was a problem with the way I read, books specifically so that’s what today’s blog post is focused on. 

I wasn’t an avid reader when I was younger. I grew up in the generation that fell in love with Harry Potter when it was first released but I only started to read Philosopher’s Stone years later. After that, I only read a chapter or two of Chamber of Secrets and then I stopped. As someone who watched younger children around me read these books, I felt embarrassed that I felt like I couldn’t. I didn’t understand the language the author used and I didn’t understand the true meaning of some of the words. I couldn’t keep up with the storylines and the characters, it was too complex for me. This was the same as the Lord of the Rings books too. 

My favourite book series at that time were the “Goosebumps” books by R.L. Stine which I still own to this day. My brother went to the United States when he was younger and he brought back the American covers and I promised myself I would never throw them out or give them away because they were always books that I loved to read over and over again. My first memory of trying to “write my first book” (suffice to say, this never came to anything), it was something that I wanted to turn into a Goosebumps story.  

Jacqueline Wilson was one of my favourite authors because she wrote stories that every little girl of that age could relate to. They were so easy to read too, I felt like I could understand every scenario and it was comforting. 

IMG_20170706_131717_073-01.jpeg(Before I started using a re-usable cup for out-of-the-office tea)

It was a few years ago that I started to realise that something wasn’t right. I would read books but forget what they were about. I would have to go back a chapter each time I picked up the book, even if I had read it the day before. I had no real sense of what had happened and I can’t remember the last time it didn’t happen. I thought it was a silly problem to have and maybe this was a sign that I wasn’t meant to be a reader. A person that isn’t meant to read? Yes, I thought it was a ridiculous statement too which is why I didn’t lean on it for comfort. I looked at how I was reading and analysed it to see if there was anything I could do to help myself. 

I didn’t read out loud.

I read inside because I assumed that was how everyone read material. The only time I had to read out loud was in school when your teacher called on you to read part of the class book, and back then, I was generally a fast reader. I sped through each sentence and before I knew it, I was finished. So naturally, I would speed through a book and I was finished; onto the next one. It was another tick off one of my many lists, but what exactly did I gain from that? 

If I didn’t understand a word, I’d make up another pronunciation or I would skip over it entirely.

I still sometimes have a hard time with words that I can’t pronounce and it’s very embarrassing. I remember one time in college when we were doing a voice over for a class and everything was going perfectly until one of my sentences came up. When one of our team was editing it on top of the video, you could clearly tell it wasn’t the same word that was in the script, and because it was in class, I wanted to ground to swallow me up. When I’m on my own reading, if I can’t pronounce a word or say it wrong then I either glance over it or I mumble something, and I don’t go back to it. 

With those two points in mind, I had to change the way I read which when you say it out loud, it does sound very strange. For me, as silly as it may sound, it was embarrassing and I knew that I was going to be the only one who was going to be able to change it. Now when I read a book (if I’m in my house on my own) I read out loud and because you’re using more energy to do that, it means I become very tired, very fast. Tiredness when reading had always been an issue for me no matter what age I was but when I started reading out loud, it soon became apparent how tired I would get. 

Reading out loud means that I have to say every single word and I become very aware if I say something wrong or I don’t know how to pronounce a word. It means I can’t skip over it and I try my best with it. There have been many points where I have had to re-read a sentence five or six times in order for me to continue. Eventually in your reading session, you get to grips with the rhythm and you tend not to make many mistakes. However, as soon as tiredness hits me and I can’t read a sentence without a mistake, then I know it’s time to set it down for a while. 

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(My current reading material: The War For Late Night by Bill Carter)

At the beginning of the year, I signed up to a subscription to Audible, and if you don’t know what that is (although most people will have heard of it) It’s an audio book subscription service by Amazon where you get one credit a month and you can download almost any book in an audible form. I’ve heard of Audible for quite a few years but in my head, I was reluctant to sign up to it because I thought listening to an audio book was seen as “cheating”. If you didn’t physically read the book, did it count? Ridiculous I know but that was my mentality at the time. However, having listened to quite a few books since signing up, I couldn’t recommend it more. In my latest post about personal development (which I will link here) I spoke about listening to podcasts but I also took the time to listen to audio books on my way to work too. I will be doing a follow up post on the audio books I have listened to so far very soon and I haven’t loved all the ones I chose, so I’ll explain that in more depth soon. 

For someone that found it very hard to read more than one chapter of a book, audio books have been a life changing discovery and I now longer feel like I am cheating by listening to the words rather than reading them.  

I’ve come to terms with how I read now and I continue to read my best with it. I’m not very fast and it will take me a considerable time to read a book but it’s more important to me that I am more connected to a book because of the disconnect I felt before

Thank you so much for reading today’s post. I know it was a very different post to others I have posted about but it’s something I wanted to write about because I searched online and I couldn’t find anyone else who had had the same experience as me. So, if I can comfort one other person and let them know that it’s not as silly as it sounds, then I’ll be over the moon. Enjoy the rest of your day! 

Titanic Quarter 10K (2018) Race Day!

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If you’ve been reading the blog regularly, you’ll know that recently I was training for my next 10K, the Titanic Quarter 10K in Belfast. Well, that race took place on Sunday 8th April and today I’m going to tell you all about it. 

(If you want to catch up on my previous posts first, I’ll have them linked at the bottom of the page!) 

That morning, I was really nervous and quite panicky. I didn’t want to have breakfast because I felt a little ill but I knew that it would be a horrible idea not to have breakfast before a race, so I forced myself to eat. I had so many nerves because in my first 5K race, I had a few panic attacks and when we had done the trial run of the Titanic route, I had a slip up in terms of my anxiety and I started to panic. So understandably, I wasn’t surprised I was nervous. 

IMG-20180408-WA0009.jpg(Pre-race smiles!)

We hadn’t picked our packs up beforehand so we arrived there earlier than usual to make sure we weren’t running behind and to give us good time to pick up the packs. We weren’t expecting to get our t-shirt before the race so we kept our regular t-shirts on and put them in Scott’s bag instead. From what Scott said, they had changed the route slightly from the last time he had taken part, but he said that it was a better route than before. We started out in front of the famous Titanic Belfast so if you were a vistor to the city, it would have been the perfect opportunity to see a tourist attraction. 

I was nervous up until we all started to run, I don’t know why but I have the “first run” fear when I think I’m going to be out of breath in ten seconds, which is crazy because I know I can run a fair distance and be absolutely fine. Once we started though, I was fine. We stayed pretty much at the back from the beginning because we thought I might get caught up in a big crowd and run faster than I should be at the beginning, then be completely exhausted half way through. We were able to pass people easily because we had started at the back, but passing people was the furthest from my mind.  

27467803848_0f1d1a6b91_b-01.jpeg(Photo credit to Athletics NI who managed to get a running shot of me that I’m pretty pleased with.)

I didn’t take any photographs when we were running; I don’t mind stopping while I’m running but for me, it’s different if I’m taking part in a run. Fortunately for me, the Titanic Quarter route is not a scenic one so there weren’t many opportunities for photographs. It’s a fairly boring route to say the least but I’m very glad I had ran it beforehand so I knew what to expect. I think that was part of my problem with the Connswater 5K race; I hadn’t ran it before so I didn’t know when we were turning, and especially with a large crowd, I got myself worried with the uncertainty.  

temporary_file1992367241.jpg(This is the map taken from my Strava so if you know Belfast, you’ll know the route we were following.)

Generally over the course of the race, I felt fine. I had one moment where I thought I might panic but I was able to catch myself fast enough to pace my breathing so I ended up not freaking out. I wasn’t overly exhausted, I knew physically I was fine but about half way through the race, I knew that my mental energy was draining fast. I don’t know how many times I said “I can do this” inside my head, but it was a hell of a lot and it seemed to work. The weather was nice to us, the sun wasn’t splitting the trees but it wasn’t cold either. I’m glad I put my coat in Scott’s bag or I would have been sweating buckets. 

Towards the very end of race, we could see the finish line and I knew I wanted to get there as soon as I could. I had started to speed up but I asked Scott was I going too fast too soon and he said yes, so I scaled it back a little until I knew I could really speed up. For this race, I wasn’t aiming for a time, time did not matter at this point because my main aim was to finish. I finished up with a time of 01:07:35 which was naturally, I was over the moon with. 

IMG-20180408-WA0005-01.jpeg(Post-race smiles with our medals.)

Looking back, I wish I had have been able to do a little more training leading up to the race but with a sore toe and the snow disrupting the first few months of the year, it was out of my control. I guess that’s what happens with races during the start of the year, right? Apart from that hiccup, I’m really happy with how it all went and I think I’ll be sticking with 10K distances for a little while before attempting a half marathon distance. I want to try and improve my timing before I try that. 

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my post today and as I mentioned at the beginning, if you missed any of my running posts, I’ll have the most recent ones linked below. 

Training for a 10K Race: Wait, again? 
Training for a 10K Race: Three Loops and One Long Run. 
Training for a 10K Race: One Last Check In. 

Changing My Environmental Impact With Small Changes.

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Sunday 22nd April 2018 marks a very special occasion, it’s known as Earth Day and considering I have started to look more consciously of my impact on the Earth; I wanted to write about the things that I have incorporated into my life. 

If you read my latest post on the Low Tox Box (which I’ll link here), you’ll know that I absolutely loved the box and I have used every single product ever since I got it. I’ll try my best not to repeat some of the same points that where in that post, so it’s not too repetitive. 

Using a reusable drink mug 

If you have known me personally for the last few years, you will know that I used to carry around one of my favourite possessions all the time. It was a tea flask, but it wasn’t any tea flask, it was a Dunder Mifflin flask. The Office US is one of my favourite television programmes and Dunder Mifflin was the name of the company. I would guess that I had this cup for about six or seven years, it was a very long time. Unfortunately I misplaced it, I think I might have accidentally set it down somewhere in the city centre and I never found it. Devastated was not the word I would use to describe how I felt but eventually I got over the loss and I was on the look out for a new cup. Being a woman who loves her research, I came across one particular product called a “Keep Cup” and I was more intrigued about the fact that it was glass. I try and not buy impulsively so I slept on it and a few days later, I seen a post by Flow Studio Boutique advertising that they sold them so I decided to buy one. 

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I chose the grey coloured top from their cork series and reading that the cork is sustainability sourced, made that decision much easier. It’s a fantastic cup; I have the large size because I don’t believe in a small cup of tea. My only complaint about it would be that you have to be very careful for the first ten minutes when you’ve made your tea. The water is very warm when you’ve poured it in so the glass is hot as well so you have to make sure you hold it using the cork strip or your hand will be very sore. Apart from that, I would highly recommend it and I’m seeing more people in coffee shops using them, which is even better. 

What makes this change more beneficial in the long run is that more coffee shops are offering a discount for bringing your own cup with you rather than using disposable mugs. So you’re saving money and saving another cup from being thrown away. If you’re looking for an interesting read on the growing use of products like Keep Cup, The Independent wrote an article on the Latte Levvy back in January and went into further detail about the impact take-away cups have and what could be in store for the UK in the future, hopefully following the lead from Australia. 

Drinking Loose Leaf Tea 

Keeping on the theme of tea for a moment, I have been trying to minimise the amount of tea bags that I use and going for the loose leaf tea version instead. I’m not perfect, I still use them sometimes in work but my house is almost one hundred percent loose leaf, which I’m quite happy with.  

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We’ve been told to put our tea bags into the food wastage bin, thinking that they are bio-degradable but I was very surprised to read that there are some brands out there that still use plastic in their bags, therefore not being biodegradable. This article from Country Living gives more details on the brands that do use plastic, the ones that don’t, and more importantly, what the brands that do use it, are currently planning on doing to change that. 

I tend to find that when I drink loose leaf, the flavour comes through much stronger and I know you shouldn’t do this, but I can get a second go from the leaves I used previously. It’s not as strong but it still gives a good flavour. I love this comparison from The Tea Spot on the difference between loose leaf tea bags and traditional tea bags, they go into more detail than I ever could. 

Walking to Work 

It’s very simple really but I know not everyone can do this. Whether that’s because you work further away or maybe physically you can’t walk that far, that’s absolutely fine but this is what I do (No judgement here.) My workplace is a little over thirty minutes away walking or seven minutes on the bus, and it’s much more sustainable and cheaper for me to walk to work. I get my steps up every day and it gives me time to myself to listen to a podcast on the way there. This article from Let’s Reach Success lists a number of good reasons why we should be walking to work if we live within the distance to do so and are (physical) able to. 


Using Energy Efficient Light Bulbs 

For some, this might not be an option and unfortunately, it isn’t for me. Most of my light bulbs are wired into the ceiling rather than being your standard lightbulb so if I can figure out if I can replace them, then I’ll be changing to energy efficient bulbs. The reason I’m bringing this up is when I lived at home, most of the rooms in the house had these light bulbs and I found it incredibly frustrating at times. Mainly because they took longer to light up rather regular bulbs; my problem was my patience and at the end of the day, waiting a little extra time shouldn’t be a reason not to use them if they’re going to make a difference to your energy usage.  

For the statistics, benefits and a more detailed answer, I would recommend this article by the U.S Department for Energy.

Meal Preparation 

You all know that I am a huge advocate of cooking in bulk for my work lunches, and if you cook it all at once; then you minimise your time used throughout the week cooking individual lunches, you lower the energy whether that be from the oven, stove or microwave and you lower your stress levels in the morning because you can grab and go rather than panic that you have nothing for lunch. I understand that it may not be for everyone but I urge you to try it for two weeks and I can guarantee you will feel great for it. Speaking from experience, it helps me every time knowing I have everything ready to go. 

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I absolutely loved these blog posts from Project Meal Plan and Engine2Diet who both gave their top tips on being more eco-friendly when it came to meal prepping. If there’s one extra thing I need to do, it’s starting to use more glass tupperware rather than plastic (I reuse it though!) 

My Change of Diet 

I became vegan in January 2017 and I haven’t looked back since. (I wrote a blog post about which I’ll link here) Reducing my consumption of meat, dairy and fish products has made me feel more ethical conscious and while not everyone will want to do that, campaigns like Meatless Monday and Veganuary have had huge success in informing people on the damage that animal products also has does to our environment. I do a majority of my food shopping at a local supermarket but I have started buying my fruits at a local green grocers, and in doing this, you know that the majority of the fruit is coming more from a local area which overall means, less travel from being picked to shop front. I don’t feel like I’m qualified to give you the statistics on the more environmental side so I have found a great selection of articles that will give you a better sense of it. 

One Green Planet is an American company so their statistics are of course, based on the United States but I believe it is important none the less. The chocolate brand (and my favourite chocolate of all time) Ombar have an informative article on three environmental benefits and finally, CNN has a fantastic article from last year talking about the last effects of a vegan diet. 

I think it’s important to remember that even though there is one special day to celebrate Earth Day, we should be taking the initiative to celebrate Earth Day every day. It’s our planet, we have to look after it as best we can, and if you think you aren’t making a difference, look at the little things you do and change one thing.  

Before I finish up today’s post, I want to share some blog posts I found while writing this blog post that I couldn’t seem to fit within each section. 

A Considered Life with Sustainable Living Choices to Celebrate Earth Day. 
Crazy Blonde Life with 12 Things To Do For Earth Day and Every Day! 
Curiosity Stream with Celebrate Earth Day With These Top Five Documentary Picks.  
This Little Blog Of Mind with Plants: Why You Need Them In Your Home. 
Portle Bay Popcorn and The Eco Edit with Roxy Hempel: 5 Ways To Be More Eco-Conscious. 

I hope you enjoyed today’s post; it’s an important one to me and I think we should all be looking at our impact individually by changing our routines gradually one day at a time.